When Forgiveness Is Denied (Forgiveness Part 1)

In a cycle of hurt feelings and retaliation, my daughter played a “prank” on a friend. It wasn’t just something silly. It was destructive, performed in a spirit of revenge. Afterwards, she was sorrowful for her vindictive behavior when she realized how much pain it inflicted. So last weekend, I accompanied her to her friend’s house to meet with both the girl and her mother to apologize.

Before she could complete her apology, her friend exploded with strings of profanities and accusations that appalled me while her mother quietly observed. Tears streamed down my daughter’s cheeks as she received the onslaught and fought the urge to defend herself in like manner. My gentle pat on her back reminded her not to mirror the behavior, but instead to do what Jesus would do in the middle of false accusations and just listen and be silent. Her friend was unwilling to listen. We left unable to achieve any reconciliation or peace.

For a while, I doubted my decision to allow my daughter to be subjected to verbal abuse. Perhaps I should have removed her from the situation sooner, insisting on mutual respect. Perhaps I should have said we would return later when her friend was willing to have a discussion.

This week, God reassured me through Matthew 5 - Jesus tells us not to lose a minute but to make the first move to make things right. He wants us to abandon our worship and offerings if we remember a grudge a friend has against us and go immediately to work things out. We are responsible for our own actions, not others’ responses.

God’s way is not always the easy way and may look strange to the world, but it is always the best way, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Doing the right thing was hard. It took courage. And at the moment, it feels unrewarded. But I deeply recognize how beautiful forgiveness can be now that I know how it feels to have it denied for a long length of time.

I am fighting the feeling of resentment for the verbal attack on my daughter. Holding onto a wrong seems to be the easier way sometimes. The flesh naturally wants to rehearse the wrongs, compile a list of offenses, and command repayment for what is owed. But if I hang on to my resentment, then I am no better off than the offender.

God’s forgiveness when I repent has never looked so beautiful. When someone expresses remorse for wrong done to me, I would like to think I would be quick to grant it. But what if the offender is never sorry? Am I required to forgive? And does forgiving mean that I have to always forget the offense as well? Have I truly forgiven if I keep remembering it? I plan to explore the answers in my next three posts and would love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Paula,

    I enjoyed your reminder of forgiveness. Sometimes we all can be quick to expect forgiveness, but quiet when we must say something.

    You must have had your heart broken watching another girl scream at your daughter...
    But I am sure there is a lesson from God for your daughter that -if it is not evident now- will be in the future.

    Thank you for sharing your heart.