All Truth is God's Truth, and can show up in the most unexpected places. Don Henley wrote a song in 1989, called "Heart of the Matter." The chorus is as follows:
"I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter,
But my will gets weak,
And my thoughts seem to scatter,
But I think it's about forgiveness,
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore."
And you know what I think? I think Henley hit the nail right on the head. It really is all about forgiveness, forgiveness whether of not the one who "dun you wrong" ever acknowledges your attempts. I've carried a lot of bitterness around at times. You understand, I'm sure? Someone you care about deeply does something so hideously hurtful that you wonder who they even are. Everything in you screams, "HOW DARE YOU!!" And you revel in the pain. I know I do. I want to feel miserable and I want them to know that I feel miserable. "If you did this to me, missy, you're gonna feel the scorn." Been there, thought that.
I can carry it for a good long while, too, and the longer I carry it, the more justified I feel; the more I really believe that they should never be forgiven.
But then it creeps in. That niggling reminder that I have been just as hideous. I remember past offenses. The times when the words rushed forth and I couldn't take them back. The phone call I should never have made; the letter I regretted the moment it dropped it in the slot. The murderous thoughts of the heart that would shock those who know me.
So I push back. "Surely when I hurt him, it was deserved," I rationalize. I refuse to acknowledge the truth. I read, "But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive you, " Obviously that applies to everyone except me. If I don't consciously think that, I certainly live it by my actions.
Who am fooling? I am hurting myself and everyone around me by my selfish acts of unforgiveness. It is no accident that steps 8, 9 and 10 of Alcoholics Anonymous all have to do with "making amends." Forgiveness is the most powerful tool in the universe. It is what brings us to Christ,after all, and if He can forgive me, bloody, wretched mess that I am, who I am to hold on to any bitterness at all? Who am I to think that I can have any true relationship with a forgiving Savior if I can't just let it go?
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