Dear Martha, Someone in my church community hurt my feelings deeply and I don’t see how I can forgive her. I know I should, but I need help. Miserable Mable
Hi Mable, I can identify with how easy it is to be hurt by others in your church community. We are all so different, and so alike in other ways! It’s difficult to know whether the people who hurt us could be so insensitive to the pain they cause us. They often have such different temperaments. They speak what is on their minds and have no idea they have hurt our feelings. Often they don’t even know us very well and are totally unaware of our sensitivities.
At other times, they know us very well. We wonder how they could have said or done what they did and hurt us in such a painful way. But either way, we have a responsibility both to them and to ourselves to be sure our relationship is made right!
Resources for help in true peacemaking
As a great resource, I recommend material available from Peacemaker Ministries. A specific brochure I found to be helpful is this one. It is now described as a legacy brochure and is on sale. It is the one titled Peacemaking Principles. I like it because it has a lot of Scripture available for each of the principles. It is very helpful and succinct. It summarizes much of Biblical teaching on forgiveness and reconciliation.
They have updated a lot of their material I see as I look at the website. Some of my favorites are on the page called the legacy page in the store. Click on it. There is a workbook for kids called Young Peacemaker which is great for kids (and for those who are teaching them these principles.) The one for teens is in a comic strip format and is also great for people who struggle with literacy. The illustrations are racially mixed as well which I always like! They contain lots of great memory devices to help kids/teens and even adults remember this helpful information from GOD’s Word that will help them all through life.
The bottom line in this material and in the Bible, is to speak to the person with whom you have the problem. Can it be embarrassing? Yes! It can be embarrassing to admit your feelings are hurt. But according to what GOD says, that is much better than holding a grudge and allowing a relationship to be blocked in some way. It is certainly much better than allowing it to cause dissension within your local church too.
What I have found when I have done this is that I got a totally different perspective on the event. When I went to the person without an attitude that I was going to fix her, I learned much more about the setting of the comment and realized that there was much more going on than I had any Idea of. It woke me up to the fact that life was about way more than me and my feelings.
Of course, there have been exceptions. But going through these helpful principles from GOD’s Word have been very helpful to me in both forgiving and in being reconciled to others.
Forgiveness is not easy. It is something we need to learn how to do. We need a lot of practice.
Learning to forgive is not easy. It assumes that you have been wronged. It assumes that this is no small thing. It can be easy for us to live in denial regarding our own sinfulness against GOD and the ways we hurt others.Learning to forgive is not easy. It assumes that you have been wronged. It assumes that this is no small thing. It can be easy for us to live in denial regarding our own sinfulness against GOD and the ways we hurt others. Click To Tweet
Short term, it can be less painful to live in denial about the ways we have been sinned against. That is a difficult and painful place to go. It’s also easy to live in denial regarding the pain we cause others.
I will mention here one more important thing we must keep in mind. It is easy to focus on our individual concerns when we think about the Church. But there is much more at stake than our personal issues!
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:
just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
The way the world around us will know we Christians are for real is by the way we love each other. It is not by our perfect doctrine, the perfect way we live, or a certain set of rules we follow…none of that! (And those are important.) It all breaks down to the way we love each other! That includes our being able to forgive each other when we fail. The world around us recognizes that it takes something more than superficiality when it comes to loving others. I Corinthians 13 ESV wasn’t put there simply to be sentimental!
So if we want to show that our faith is not counterfeit…that it is genuine, we have to learn to forgive each other, just as Jesus forgave us! It isn’t easy. It doesn’t come naturally. It only comes as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit working out the Gospel in our lives.So if we want the genuineness of our faith to show, we must learn to forgive each other, as Jesus forgave us! It isn't easy. It doesn't come naturally. It does come as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit working out the Gospel in us. Click To Tweet
As He works to change us from the inside out, He helps us humble ourselves and commit ourselves to love instead of hold grudges; to commit ourselves to reconciliation rather than gossip; to build up instead of tearing down.
May GOD help all of us to show the world around us the true Gospel of Christ…that we love each other because of Christ and the love He had for us.