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  • Writer's pictureLaura Kae

Unforgiven: because I am not sorry

No matter how little we are around children, we have all seen it. Kids are fighting. A parent directs one kid to apologize to another kid. The naughty child looks as repentant as the cat who just ate the canary. The anger oozing from his pores is more directed at having to apologize for his crime than it is against the child whom he hurt (in his own mind, justifiably). Through gritted teeth, he mumbles he is sorry. No one quite believes his sincerity, but his obligation is filled. He can go and join the other children as they play.

I felt like that naughty brat this week. I am sure I was the brat several times in my own childhood. As I follow Jesus and learn to live in right relationship with other people, sometimes I still am. This week I was dragging my feet. I told God I was sorry, but I just did not want to say so. Why did I have to say so?

I had an interesting revelation. It did not matter how sorry I was. If I did not ask for forgiveness, I could not receive it and begin to live free of the dark cloud hanging over my head. It did not matter how much I knew the other person would forgive me or, in this case, likely already had. If I did not go to them and ask for forgiveness, I would live with guilt. I would feel unforgiven. I would not experience the gift of freedom from the debt I owed them.

I did have an alternative. I could do my best to shove my wrongdoing under the rug and hope the other person did the same. I could make a pledge to never hurt the other person in this way again. I could wake up every day and determine to be different than I was before. I could strive to rectify my mistake and appease the other person without ever clearing the air, or I could go to them and humbly ask for their forgiveness.

There was an opportunity to accept forgiveness, one of the greatest gifts available to humanity; and I was not sure I wanted to accept it. I wanted to be proud and make excuses. I wanted to blame my actions on circumstances, my own pain, their character defects and just the way the imperfect world is.

Hey, we are all human. Why should I apologize for my mistakes?

I will never be able to accept God’s forgiveness either if I do not admit He is right and I am wrong. If I do not agree with Him about what the nature of love is, I cannot receive His forgiveness for my unloving actions. Instead I will just stand and argue with Him about why I do not need His forgiveness.

I have thought a lot recently about the connections between humility, self-acceptance, brokenness and pride. Some people say we need to learn to love ourselves, so we can be kind to ourselves. I do not believe so. Instead I have learned I need to forgive myself for being weak. I need a great deal of humility to accept my weakness. It has little to do with self-love (something I believe Scripture never teaches). It has more to do with losing my great, big, huge sense of pride.

God, I would just like to inform you why I hurt the other person and why I am justified in doing so…. I bet if I try hard enough I can even twist Your Word to defend my actions….

I have a choice: I can fight, or I can be forgiven. And even if God or the other person is more than willing to forgive me and love me unconditionally, I cannot receive the available forgiveness and unconditional love unless I ask for it. Sometimes I have not because I ask not.

Right now I am working steps eight and nine. I am admitting my wrongdoings, asking for forgiveness, forgiving others for hurting me, and building boundaries in unhealthy relationships. I find this is one of the most freeing steps. Every time I make amends with another person on my list, I have more joy. The burden I carry is so much lighter when I decide to quit carrying it.

It is never good to leave things under the carpet. They fester there. They never heal, and it hurts when people step on them.

I want to be forgiven. I want to receive forgiveness. It blows my mind how much God and people are willing to forgive me. I want to be free. I want to accept the greatest gift God ever gave me – forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ. I want to pass the gift on to other people and accept it from them. I want to be free.

Do you have any relationships in your life where you need to clear the air? Do you dream of a day when you could be in a room with that person and not wonder if they remember what you did? What can you do to change this situation?

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