Old ________ Die Hard
Facebook the other day recommended I friend someone who’s connected to various other people I know (when did “friend” become a verb?). It was strange; I’d thought about him a couple times since we last saw each other a decade ago. I couldn’t even remember his name until Facebook showed it to me. And in the moment, I realized I was still mad at him.
He’d kind of treated me badly in one of our last interactions. I’d screwed something up, and I knew it, but when I apologized later, he immediately laid into me, telling me all the things I did wrong despite the fact that I had just admitted to and apologized for those very things a few seconds earlier. It was a moment of, I felt, vulnerability for me, and he used it to take advantage of it and tear open some wounds. I felt attacked and abused.
Now, more than ten years later, his name makes me a bit angry all over again. It seems forgiveness is still warranted. Like I said, I’d thought about him and this incident a few times over the years, and I tried to forgive him, but things linger. I think it’s a testament to how our hearts work. First of all, stuff lingers. We carry things with us – bad things we’ve done, bad things done to us, good things we’ve done, good things done to us, utterly neutral things that get carried around for one reason or another… It sticks with us, even if we’re not aware of it. I had no idea I was still bugged with him until the thought of him came up.
Another thing that it shows is that forgiveness can take time. Out hearts often aren’t capable of making instant changes. “I forgive you,” might come out the mouth, but that doesn’t mean the heart is fully there yet. Just like the father’s words to Jesus, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” perhaps it could be reappropriated and made, “I forgive! Help my unforgiveness!” It’s a process to undergo more than just a once-for-all choice to be made.
So I think about this man whom I’m still apparently in process of forgiving. What would it be like to see him again? What would I say? How would we relate? How would I feel about seeing him? I think I’d be a little uneasy. I think there would still be a little resentment. And so I think there is still work to be done with the Spirit.
Lord, show me some of those things that I’m still carrying around that I don’t even realize. Show me the things that I need to deal with – to face and work through with You. Help me acknowledge my faults, forgive those of others, admit my weaknesses and pains, embrace the good I avoid or have forgotten. Help me to join with you in the process, and not just a quick choice.