Last month I read an article about a ninety-nine year old man filing for divorce from his ninety-six year old wife after seventy-seven years of marriage. Did you see it? Apparently, he was cleaning out the attic and discovered love letters from a brief affair she had during World War II, seventy year ago. What she did was wrong and she apologized but he could not forgive her. It did not matter that they had been together almost eight decades. It did not matter that they had five grown children, twelve grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. Forgiveness was out of the question.
Jesus preached about forgiveness often. He not only provided direct examples of forgiveness in his ministry on earth; he uses parables to teach us the consequences of being unforgiving. He says plainly that if we want God to forgive us, we must forgive others. I have yet to meet anyone that does not need forgiveness. We make mistakes. We act out when we are stressed. We react or overreact in various situations. Sometimes we say things we wish we had not said or do things we wish we had not done. We make judgments against others and find out we were wrong. Every single one of us is guilty of being a sinner. We want God to forgive us but how willing are we to forgive?
Forgiving does not mean we forget but we do let go. We no longer relive the situation and we do not allow the situation or the person who wronged us to have power over us. Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. While you may let go and forgive, rebuilding trust can take more time and may not be appropriate. As we approach Lent, let us each take a hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are continuing to hold a grudge over something in the distant past. If you are estranged from a former loved one, pray that God will provide a means for reconciliation, if possible. If it is not possible, pray that God will provide you both peace.