Some know they have offended, and have apologized. Others have no idea they have offended ... and going to them and pointing out their offense would only cause more grief than it would resolve. Besides, it would still leave me in the position of needing to forgive them.
Forgiveness is something I need to do for my benefit, not theirs. The anger and resentment that I have just sits there and builds up ... and occasionally erupts in ugly ways, catching those who do not deserve it. And that anger, when it erupts, scares me. I need to release it.
I've known this, subconsciously, for awhile. But recent sermons at church have brought that point home more prominently.
And I don't know how to do it. I don't know practically what it means to forgive, when deep down in my soul I want to remain angry and bitter and resentful at those people. I can say words like "I forgive you" to them ... but when my heart is still bitter towards them, I know that my words are incomplete at best (and hypocritical at worst).
But in that context ... I saw an article in Christianity Today about the Amish and their forgiveness in the recent schoolhouse shooting. A quote from that article has stuck with me since I read it:
Forgiveness does not deny that a wrong has taken place, but it does give up the right to hurt the wrongdoer in return.And maybe that's a place to start. I have to give up dwelling on the resentment ... on sitting around thinking up ways to exact my revenge. And that seems to be changing the way I think about them.
In the meantime, I've ordered a recent book on forgiveness. We'll see how it goes.
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.