To Forgive or Not to Forgive
We were discussing forgiveness yesterday and why it is so hard to forgive. We each gave an example of a time we were not forgiven, or a situation that there was no forgiveness, that affected us. I told the following story, not realizing how much it affected me until I told it. As part of moving on, I am telling the story and then letting go of the incident.
Working in a church for several years had some very negative affects on me personally (not focusing on why I am here, I am focusing on me). What you see when you are behind the scenes can drive someone away from the church forever if they let it. There came a time that a church member, upset with something the minister had said during a meeting, had sent out an email to several people who had attended the meeting. It was a pretty bad email, and of course it got back to the minister. The member that sent it, sent out a second email apologizing for the original email that had been sent in haste while he was upset and apologized to the minister. After a few weeks of the minister being obviously upset still with this member, a meeting was called with the member, the minister, the chair of the staff-parish committee, and me as a witness. The member started the meeting apologizing once more, and I could see that he was truly sorry, and it was a very sincere apology. When he was finished, the minister pulled out the email, which he had laminated, and told the member that every morning he reads the email, so he can remember what is out there against him. There was no acceptance of the apology, no forgiveness. I was in shock. How can someone preach about forgiving, and not be able to do the same himself? This was just one of several instances I witnessed over the years, by several ministers, of carrying around a grudge. My group and I did discuss that ministers are human, but it still comes down to practicing what you preach.
Forgiveness is a very hard thing, for everyone. I am working hard to put things behind me and let go of the grudges. I hope that this minister was able to shred the laminated email, and truly forgive the member.
I pray that everyone can find a way to forgive me for all of the hurt I have caused to my family, friends, church and everyone else.