Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Letting go of the rope

Forgiveness is hard. I actually think its the hardest thing God calls us to do. Whenever I struggle hard with the idea of forgiveness, I am incredibly inspired by the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who (along with her family) was imprisoned during WWII for helping Jewish people hide/escape captivity. Many of her family members died at the hands of the Nazis in the prison camp, yet she always spoke of love and forgiveness. I once read this snippet about her and it really connected with me - the visual is one I can really relate to:
Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest.
"His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks."
"Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down."
"And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force - which was my willingness in the matter - had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."
These days I am really struggling lately with forgiveness involving a conflict. What I am struggling with the most is that it doesn't seem to be me that keeps re-tugging the rope - whenever the bell slows to a stop, the people that I am in conflict with seem to wail on the rope again, or so it feels to me. Then I find it hard to not fume about it because when I do, I tug and tug on that rope again and again. It is very frustrating. What do we do when the person you need to forgive does not seem interested in receiving your forgiveness, and they keep doing things that keep the bell of anger ringing? I know we are to forgive whether anyone accepts or even wants your forgiveness, but boy! They are really making it difficult to let go of the rope.

Prayers would be heartily accepted in this situation. To end, another Corrie quote:
Forgiveness is the key which unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness. The forgiveness of Jesus not only takes away our sins, but makes them as if they had never been. – Corrie ten Boom, "Tramp For The Lord”