The following post appeared on my own blog last week, and at Pilgrim David's suggestion I'm posting it here too. Forgiving this man has been a big struggle and a large weight to carry for me, so please pray for me as I try to make peace with it.
To err is human, to forgive divine- how very, very true! Forgiveness has certainly proved to be very hard for me lately.
I’ve been struggling for a while with trying to forgive someone for something that they did to me. In my life, many people have hurt me or done something bad to me. Some have asked for forgiveness and/or apologized, and others haven’t bothered to do either, but I’ve always managed to forgive them. Conversely, I’ve also been the one to mess up, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive forgiveness.
To make a very long story short, years ago a member of a church I used to attend was caught talking about me in a not-so-positive way. This person wasn’t just a church member, but an elder, and a well-respected one. I swam for my university swim team for two seasons, until an injury forced me to retire. During my first year away at school, I joined this church, but with a heavy competition schedule, I was away competing an average of three week-ends a month. Whenever I was able to, I attended the Sunday meeting. I couldn’t go to the “College and Careers” group because they met on a Friday night, and I had practice Friday night and then again at 5:30 am on Saturday mornings.
A group of people who know me (including some family members) met this particular elder at a conference, and when they heard which church he was from, they asked him if he knew me. This is when the man started on a long and rambling speech about how I was a lackluster Christian, that my attendance was shabby at best, that I hadn’t shown any willingness to socialize with the other people my age and that he really didn’t want to be bothered with someone like me, who would only semi-commit themselves to attending church. Apparently, he also made a face like he was sucking on lemon when my name was first mentioned. Keep in mind, this was coming from my grandmother, so I’m sure she was softening the blow.I never went back to that church (those who read my testimony last summer will remember that I didn’t go ANYWHERE for a while afterwards). About a year later, I saw this man in the grocery store, and I hid in the next aisle over until he left. To this day I’m so humiliated by what he said. It may sound immature to say that he hurt my feelings, but he did. I still feel tears welling up when I think about it. It frustrates me that he thought that about me, but what frustrates me the most is that he (or anyone else) never asked why I was hardly around. Now that I’m older, I can look back on the situation with better perspective than I could when I was eighteen and I realize now that I should have spoken to someone and explained my absence, and that I truly was doing the best I could. I guess hindsight really is 20/20.
The entire situation shook my faith. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it really did shake me. I think I’ve done a good job so far of recovering, but for the past month it’s really been weighing on me. No matter how hard I try, I can’t forgive this person. It’s been YEARS, and I still feel so much anger when I think about it. I have a strong feeling the Lord has been putting this desire in my heart to forgive, but I just CAN’T. I want to, but I can’t- it still stings.
So, that’s what’s been happening with me this past month. I read Matthew 7:1-5 this week, and I think it serves as such a great reminder that we shouldn’t judge others.
Thanks to all the Pilgrim Pals who have already lefts comments on my blog, and who have offered their support and prayers!