Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Forgiveness

Heart shaped egg yolkOnce upon a time there was a man who lived in a small village. Each time one of his neighbors offended him, hurt his feelings or made him angry he would place a brick into a wall to remind him of the hurt he suffered. Over time the wall grew to prodigious proportions. It was so high he could only see the sun at midday and it completely enclosed the man, preventing him from seeing anyone in the village.

"There", thought the man, " now no one can hurt me ever again. This will show them. "

Even then he continued to build his wall for, you see, each time he saw a brick that reminded him of a past hurt, he felt the hurt yet again and added a brick to remember this new hurt.

His fellow villagers grew concerned. Rarely had anyone intentionally offended, angered or hurt his feelings. Even his friends were kept outside this great wall. And still the wall grew.

Then one day the man heard through the wall the sounds of village life: people talking together, laughing together, working together and playing together. Life outside his wall went on without him. Now as he looked at the wall he had built, he did not see a barrier to keep others out but a prison keeping him in.

Then and there he started to tear his wall down, brick by brick. It was much harder work to remove the bricks than it had been to set them. Once day, his friends noticing the wall coming down, they stopped to help. With people helping, the wall was soon removed. Now that the reminders of past offenses were removed, the man had a hard time remembering what he was upset about in the first place. And they all lived happily ever after.

Offenses in an human relationship seem unavoidable: hurt feelings, unkind words, unmet expectations, inconsiderate acts, forgotten occasions. Many such offenses are unintentional. Factors like stress , pain, and being tired make it easier to commit and offense or to take offense when none is intended.

What do we do when we are offended, hurt and disappointed? Sometimes a person will hold a grudge. Grudges are like the brick in the story of the man who walled himself off from his village. Each grudge contributes a brick to a wall between spouses. If the grudges are allowed to remain, they will keep the partners apart.

Jesus was asked by Peter how often he should forgive an offense. In Matthew 18: 21 and 22 we read:

21 ¶ Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
How do we remove the wall of grudges? By forgiving the offender. How often do we forgive? Every time.
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