Friday, October 18, 2013

When you don't want to forgive

The prompt for today's Capture Your Grief challenge was release. It was a difficult one - what have I released over the past nine months? Or what did I want to release? After a few days of thinking about it, I realised that I have released a few things: anger and control.

Some people have done and said some extremely hurtful things to my husband and I since Ariella's birth. I think I've been angry more this year than ever before. But I also know that there's no point in holding on to that anger. It doesn't do anything except make me stew over it and get more angry and hurt. And there's not a lot of point in doing that. I've also learnt that I really can't control a lot of things. To begin with, I couldn't control what happened to Ariella; I did everything "right" during pregnancy and she still died. I can't control what people say or do to me; I can control my reaction. Which brings me to the last thing I have had to release:


Capture Your Grief: Day 18

As a Christian, I believe that God has forgiven all that I've done wrong and that I need to forgive others. Sometimes that is easy to do, especially if the offense was minor. But what about when I don't want to forgive? Do I have to forgive the person that referred to Ariella's pregnancy as a "practice run"? What about the person who went from speaking to me weekly, to only speaking to me twice in these past nine months? What about those people whose actions made me physically sick and caused a lot of anxiety? Do I really have to forgive them? Yes. I believe I do. But when it boils down to it, I don't want to.

So what do I do?

I have two choices: I can either retain or release my unforgiveness. I decided to go with the later, as hard as it was. I wish I could tell you that it was easy. That I was a "good Christian" and forgave quickly. That I have completely released my unforgiveness. But I can't, because that would be a lie. Even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I struggled a lot. However, holding on to the unforgiveness was only hurting me. Whenever I would think about it or see the people who had hurt me, it would eat away at me and cause more hurt. As well as believing God wants me to forgive, I needed to do so for my own sake.

I know I'm not the only person who has been hurt by people's words or actions after losing a baby. And that's why I decided to write this post. I don't have all the answers, but I wanted to share how I have been able to release the unforgiveness that I had been holding onto so tightly.

Firstly, I prayed. The Bible records a story of a man saying "Lord I believe, help my unbelief" and I found myself saying a similar thing: Lord, I forgive, help my unforgiveness. God wants us to forgive but He doesn't expect us to be perfect. And He never promises that it would be easy to forgive others, although he does promise that in Him we will have the strength to do so (Phil 4:13). I wanted to forgive these people, but at the same time, I just couldn't. I needed His help to deal with the unforgiveness.

Secondly, I had to choose to forgive. If I waited until I felt like I could forgive, I'd still be waiting. It wasn't a once-off choice either. Some days I had to make that choice multiple times. But over time, the choice became easier.

Finally, I want to encourage you that there's no need to forgive all in one go, take the steps you can and each step will help you get to the point when you can truly release your unforgiveness. Also, I don't think forgiving someone will remove the hurt at their actions. You are allowed to still feel hurt, even if you have forgiven the offender. Forgiving them does not make their actions right, but it does free you from the grip that their actions have on your life.

Forgiving someone is often hard. But as a Christian, I do believe God tells us to forgive others. And even if you aren't a Christian, I don't think unforgiveness is healthy.** It will eat away at you, whereas forgives provides freedom. It's a hard road to walk, but I truly believe it is worth releasing your unforgiveness, even when you don't want to forgive.

**I realised I had put "I don't think unbelief is healthy". I meant to write unforgiveness, not unbelief. I'm sorry!


Sarah said...

I'm so sorry for those unkind words. Makes me want to hop a plane and find those people and give them a piece of my mind for you! But that probably wouldn't be very helpful with the whole forgiveness idea ... ;)

But you are so right and so wise - you were hurt and did have a good reason to be ... but that doesn't excuse unforgiveness/bitterness.

I love your parallel between the "help my unbelief" prayer. I will need to use that in some things in my life right now.

Wonderful words here Larissa. I really am proud of you ... <3

Larissa said...

Hehe! It would be nice to see you, but probably not so helpful with forgiving! :P

Thanks Sarah. It has been quite humbling over the past months to realise what unforgiveness or bitterness I was unintentionally holding on to, and to learn how to give them over to God.

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