The other night during a conversation a dear and honest friend very humbly pointed out something I had said a while back that came across as seasoned with sarcasm and directed towards another person. When she brought it to my attention, I didn’t even try to explain away or sugar coat my reason for saying what I had said. My response to her was simple and honest: “Yes, that’s what exactly I meant and to be honest, I’m angry.”

Angry about what I felt had unfairly been done to me by someone I loved dearly. When we feel we have been wronged or hurt somehow we begin to feel justified in our anger. Show me an angry person and I’ll show you a hurt person. But is that a crutch I really want to lean on the rest of my life?

When we know we are the ones who have wronged others it may be pretty obvious that it’s not okay to neglect to seek out forgiveness and restitution with that person, but we convince ourselves that we are somehow justified to carry around anger, hurt and resentment when someone has wronged us without seeking the same from us….. And the next thing we know, bitterness has a hold on our lives and it comes out in everything about us.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve known a few bitter people and after a while, nobody wants to be around them. They get tired of hearing the same sad stories and sick of trying to break through the walls they have erected to protect themselves and in time most people give up and walk away.

Hurt, rejection, criticism, stuff just not going our way – all of these leave us feeling like the victims. Which gives us permission in our own mind to lash out, have short fuses, make excuses for our behaviour. After all, victims are at the mercy of others. They have no control over their lives and things done to them. And victims don’t usually want to be proactive about changing, their one main focus is making sure the person who hurt them pays. In time, everybody owes us. – Andy Stanley

But what about this?

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

But how?

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another.  {Ephesians 4:31-32}

Paul is suggesting that in place of bitterness and anger, we substitute kindness and compassion. And forgiveness is not the result of this, forgiveness is the means which allows us to give genuine kindness and compassion to those who have wronged us.

When we choose to completely and wholly forgive someone who never may even acknowledge they’ve wronged us, we let someone who probably doesn’t deserve it off the hook. But isn’t that’s exactly what Christ did for us? Forgiveness ultimately comes from Jesus and what right do we have to withhold what isn’t even ours to give away?

So that person you’ve kind of been hoping you never see again. The ones who’ve had a front row seat to the breaking of your heart and don’t even seem to care. The faces that pop into your mind when you feel the hurt they may have brought into your life. The people you secretly hope fail.

They are the ones who hold us captive. Our own unforgiveness is why we are angry. Our choice to hold onto and nurse the hurt is why we are bitter. And the solution is unbelievably simple.

It’s time we end it all, it’s time to stop the cycle…..time to let them off the hook.