Forgiveness and resentment 490
“Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus said to him Not seven times but, I tell you seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:22
Today I encountered a woman on retreat with so much anger it was difficult to be around her. Her body language, her speech cried out through tiny holes in a thick invisible wall surrounding her about a tremendous pain caused by once being abandoned. Almost every conversation was related to her unjust suffering which resulted from a broken relationship fifteen years ago. That person was no longer in her life but was still profoundly hurting her.
She also was primed, looking for, waiting for another resentment to happen. One had to walk on egg shells around her for fear of saying something that might offend her. I got caught in that trap and then tried to ease the pain I had caused her in a brief encounter, but to no avail. My amends went coolly unreceived. She was unforgiving. It was so uncomfortable to be around her. She was difficult to love, to see the Christ in her.
As I reflect on the encounter, I see, but for the Grace of God, I could have been stuck, paralyzed in the same place she was in when I had been wounded. Why has God allowed some to heal from most of our hurt relationships, but has not brought healing to this child of his? I learned from this woman so much.. so painfully. I learned that until I can forgive someone and go on with my life, that person I am resenting is still harming me. I can grieve that broken trust, that lost relationship, but unless I go on with my life, I am paralyzed.
I also learned from this woman how I can harm others with the best of intentions in my own humanness. I can reverse the tables and see how others can do the same to me. I honestly believe that most people do not intend to hurt others. May I remember this weekend and this very wounded woman and pray that we both can forgive others. I saw an image of someone I do not want to be.
I also remember how the prayer our God gave to us tells us that part of the condition of our being forgiven is forgiving others. I hope to remember this woman, and hope that it will be a reminder to me of what happens when I no longer forgive. May we both be changed.