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March 30, 2010

A feat of forgiveness

Somehow I doubt that I’m the only person on earth who has struggled at some point in my life with forgiveness. It can be a fearsome battle.

At times it may seem satisfying to hold on to anger, but when anger us retained, it almost inevitably become bitterness. And bitterness can turn me ugly from the inside out.

But read this quote from a young woman who testifies to the value of choosing a different approach:

After Thanksgiving December 3, 1975, two rough young men broke into our family home in Blacksburg, Virginia and shot my Mother and Daddy and me. My parents died and I lived to tell the story. After many years of struggling in the darkness I began to heal…

I've used many tools to heal but the most helpful tool was and is forgiveness. I couldn't hold onto the darkness and bitterness anymore. I needed to let go for a selfish reason—my peace of mind.

- Carol Dreiling

As powerful as her story is, we have an even more powerful example to follow as we move toward Good Friday, don't we? We have a Savior who said, "So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." (Luke 17:3-4) When Peter asked if we should forgive seven times, Jesus said, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:22) And then, as he hung on the Cross, he said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

Jesus not only told us to do it, but he showed us how it is done. And indeed, praying for the one who has hurt me has been a critical element of the process of forgiveness in my life.

How about you? Have you struggled with forgiveness? Have you been able to win the battle?


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