“We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.” ― Alison Croggon
This quote has hung around with me these last few days. It is far easier to take on when it is myself who is mistaken and others face the consequences than when it is the other way around and I must face consequences.
I am currently dealing with a situation where someone has made a decision from limited knowledge that has what I consider to be ‘bad consequences’ – it has really stung and is impacting my views on those reponsible. All the theory of how I should be responding is in my mind but the pain and hurt is overwhelming. It would be easy to kick and scream, shout and look for support but the harder route is to remain silent, allow time to take its course and allow people to learn. The results will be better, the learning greater and the long term consequences fruitful. Meanwhile, the pain is hard to take……but it will be worth it and in time – all will be well.
In the meantime…..it is time to work through the pain.
For Christians, the issues of forgiveness and trust are some of the heavyweight battlegrounds in terms of Church relationships. I have been personally working through some of these issues for a few months and, in truth, been beating myself over the head about my lack of forgiveness in a particular relationship. It has been more than a thorn in the flesh, more a millstone around the neck. When people have spoken with me, the weight of the millstone has increased and rather than helping, my anger with myself has increased leaving me feeling worthless and useless…..well, it did, until that eureka moment struck. I had forgiven, the issue was not forgiveness but trust.
I have to stop beating myself over the head for lacking forgiveness, rather find a way in which you can learn to trust again. What a difference, personally!
The difficult part is the understanding of others who have interpreted behaviours differently (albeit understandably) and have levelled accusation that I now realise were unfair and have ‘hamstrung’ me in my faith. Recognising the real issue has been a breakthrough and hopefully the future can be a little brighter now. The journey is certainly a different one, learning to trust again is certainly a longer road to travel, yet the destination will be joyful.
“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.” Titus 3:10-11
Ok, so this verse does not sting me in quite the same as the previous verses in this little series, rather, it troubles me. How can I have nothing to do with somebody? What happened to the forgiving 70 times 7 in Matthew 18:22? If I was to follow this through, how can the love of God be found in me? When I have tried to act upon this verse it is not long before there is a need to act ‘in love’ and with forgiveness…..am I then being untrue to the Word of God?
This verse really troubles me, I want to understand it, in fact I have tried to get beneath each individual word and see if there is something obvious that is missing but it continually comes around to seeming contradictions. AGGGGHHHHH! The context does not help dramatically but what it does share with me, is the truth that there are times when you have to ‘stop playing ball’ with some people. That truth does sting me….sure, there are some folk who I would rather avoid forever, but this does not sit with Matthew 6:14ff for me. I guess the real issues to address are;
1) What is love? Yes, you can love and hate at the same time….our issue is our interpretation of love.
2) What is forgiveness?
3) What does it mean to be ‘divisive’?
4) Can even a divisive person know God’s mercy? Should we, therefore, reciprocate?
It is not my favourite couple of verses but they are some verses that I will keep mulling over and I will trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate my own thinking in that time.