A question I’ve struggled with many times, is what does it mean to forgive someone who is unrepentant and unchanged? Someone who may have done serious and genuine evil, but refuses to acknowledge it, has never apologized (or maybe offered a half-hearted, self-justifying apology), and has carried on with their life as if nothing happened? Who continues to avoid blame or responsibility, even years after the original offense? Who continues in their harmful behaviour, to you or to others?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the progression of temptation and sin.
Maybe you’ve been there. You get into a situation that you know is not right or good and you think, “How did I get here?” You feel like you were helplessly swept along by forces or circumstances outside of your control. You might blame God or other people. You excuse yourself because of your weaknesses and your needs. You wonder, “How am I going to get out of this?”
This is certainly not an authoritative guide. I’ve had to do a lot of forgiveness, and this is what I’ve found works for me.
1. Recognize the need to forgive
This may seem obvious, but often it’s not. We may be suffering from anger, depression, and hurt over offenses that happened many years ago. Often facing those buried issues from the past and forgiving is the key to releasing that pain.
Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Out of all of Jesus’ difficult teachings, this is one of the most difficult. It sounds very wonderful and noble in theory, and even non-followers of Jesus admire it. But in practice, it is one of the most difficult to carry out because it goes so contrary to our human nature. It’s nice to read about it, not so nice to have to do it.
I so easily fall into the trap of thinking that I can somehow manipulate God and force situations to turn out the way I want them to by doing the right thing. I am often under the illusion that if I fast enough, pray intensely enough or use the right words, come to the right point of surrender, or obey fully enough, then God will grant me what I want. The outcome will be good, and by good, I mean the way I want it to be.
I was reading Exodus 17:1-7 today. In it the Israelites are grumbling and complaining because they have no water. They quarrel with Moses and accuse him of bringing them into the wilderness to die. So Moses talks to God and God does a miracle by having Moses hit a stone with his staff and water came out of it. It says that the Israelites tested God by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
I am guilty of doing the exact same thing they are.
I made up these cookies for a friend who was allergic to just about any category of food you could think of. I challenged myself to use only ingredients I already had in my cupboard. They turned out surprisingly well, and are popular even with people who don't have all these food sensitivities.
The timing of writing this has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about lately. I guess it is, in a way, appropriate to the day, but not really. It’s appropriate to all the time.
I’ve been thinking about the nature of true love.
I tried this out on a whim and it turned out surprisingly delicious.