We are in the middle of a series on tough cookies, those friends who snap and crumble and hurt. So far we’ve talked about the Demanding Friend, the Unaware Friend, the Disappearing Friend. This week, get ready to hear about the Unforgiving Friend.
If you’ve ever been close friends with an unforgiving person you will know. Unforgiveness cannot hide.
Unforgiveness is like a bee sting, it hurts much longer than the initial zinger. It swells and festers and, like a bee sting, hurts the unforgiving one the worst.
Unforgiveness, ironically, turns the hurt person into the initiator of more hurt.
Imagine that Cindy forgot to invite her type A friend, Rilla, to her wedding. Rilla is understandably distraught, hurt, angry. When Cindy apologizes, Rilla refuses to forgive.
Years go by, Rilla carries her offense into their twenties and thirties.
She was the stung, but she’s become the bee, stinging with her unforgiveness. Which woman do you relate to? Cindy or Rilla?
Chances are we’re both.
Imagine if Rilla and Cindy both shared what it was like to be unforgiven and to be unforgiving…
I know I’ve messed up. I can’t believe I failed to invite you to my wedding… but do you know the phrase a bee in your bonnet?
That is exactly how I feel being your friend. You have simmered and waited and then, zap. You sting.
You haven’t forgiven me and I realize now you probably never will. It makes me wonder about what sort of privileged pedestal you think you live on.
You are not above the rest of us. Your record isn’t spotless, either.
We both need forgiveness from each other.
I know, you’ve said you’ve forgiven me. But the way you shared it was like a ringed hand to a groveling peasant.
I don’t want to genuflect in your presence, I want to sit at your table.
I hurt you awhile ago, but forgiveness isn’t something you poured out, it’s something you’re hoarding. How can I be free around Scrouge? How can I laugh with a bee in my bonnet?
Wondering when I’ll be hit again,
You hurt me. You didn’t act like a friend should. I was supposed to be at your wedding, enjoying that important day. But you’ve proven you didn’t want me at that special event.
And I don’t think you get it. You haven’t really felt the thing you did wrong.
I can’t move on until you get that. I can’t move forward until you show me you really understand how awful you’ve been. You can show me with a couple of things
1- tell me you’re sorry whenever I bring it up.
2- accept that I don’t trust you when you say you want to hang out with me unless you prove it.
3- remember to remember me.
Until these are met, I can’t believe you really want to be my friend.
Feeling like you don’t get what you’ve done,
Unforgiving people are often unaware. But those who befriend them are not.
Most unforgiving people cannot share how deeply hurt and how deeply bitter they are…toward you. But when they do, WaHATCH out. Their list of demands will snowball into a serf/lord relationship.
That some mistakes damage trust, that some mistakes irrevocably alter friendship is undeniable. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting. Forgiveness means we refuse to punish, to stand as judge and look down upon our offender.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you will be chummy again, but forgiveness does not socially shun, it doesn’t turn cold when you begin a conversation.
We can learn to cultivate the distance between us and unforgiveness, because it’s a vice that’s tempting to all of us.
Have you noticed how easy it is to nurse unforgiveness, to feed unforgiveness morsels of self-righteousness, to raise it up into a monster, until the unforgiveness is all you have left when you remember that one friend?
Yesterday I locked my keys and my phone in my car. When I walked, humbled, into the coffee shop and asked to use their phone the barrister exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve totally been there.”
She was full of grace.
Later that day our babysitter got stuck in Silverthorne, her car broken down. Since I had endured a full weekend of nursing my family through a horrible bout of fever, I really needed some time off.
Our babysitter had to cancel and I wanted to be bitter.
But my tired and unwell husband piped up, “It’s like locking your keys in your car. These things just happen.”
Jesus said it well, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47).
It seems our ability to forgive is directly related to our depth of awareness that we have been forgiven.
Read Full Post »