It’s not that I don’t want to forgive my (former) friend. It’s that I really don’t want to forgive him. Yes, he’s sorry. Yes, he doesn’t want his words and actions to tear asunder a relationship that stretches back decades. So? Why should that be my problem?
God, why is that my problem?
I know it’s my problem. I understand intellectually that forgiveness is not for his sake, but my own. The Good Book makes it abundantly clear:
Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 6:27, and of course Matthew 18:21-22: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.
I’m not sure why this is such a big deal. As far as he knows, he’s forgiven. I mean, sure, I haven’t re-friended him on Facebook, but he understands that. It’s not like he’s interested in anything I might have to say on topics of interest to him anyway, right?
Calling him now and forgiving him – for real – would just open a whole new can of worms. Will this new, actual forgiveness be accepted, or just rip open a wound he doesn’t even know exists? If forgiving him makes us both – but mostly him – feel worse, shouldn’t I not do it?
Times like this, I really appreciate Maya Angelou’s idea of forgiveness. She once said, “My forgiveness is absolute, but that does not mean I want you at my table.”
I appreciate it, but I don’t agree with it. As much as I think her approach would get me out of this jam, I just can’t reconcile it with a slightly higher authority on the subject.
On the Cross, Jesus could have told the thief, “I forgive you, now shut up and let me concentrate.” He could have said, “You’re forgiven, see ya around sometime.”
Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
I’ve got to make a call. I’ll let you know how it goes.