By Nancy Virden (c)2017
Sometimes our enemies join us at the Christmas dinner table.
Even Scrooge, the miserly uncle in Charles Dickens’s The Christmas Carol, eventually sat down with his abused employee and family. Before the Cratchets understood he was there on a kind mission, they were distrustful and afraid.
The same is true of being around those who are against us. We are tense. Denial, and pretending that everything is fine, keep us stuck as do anger and resentment. One therapist said, “Bitterness is the poison we drink while hoping someone else will die.”
Jesus said in his famous Sermon on the Mount, “… love your enemies.” Holding someone accountable for their choices is one way of loving them. It does not enable their sin; it gives them an opportunity to repent and change. How do we forgive, then? Am I to trust this person again? Secrets may seem best left buried.
Forgiveness is not an endorsement of terrible behavior. We do not give up healthy protective barriers, either. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Forgiveness is a process that frees us to see the complete picture and set ourselves free of the pain that anger and resentment cause. Healthy forgiveness includes forgiving ourselves, forgiving who has harmed us, and forgiving when no one will acknowledge wrongdoing. Forgiving the person who has passed away, and forgiving the one who continues to cause harm may be painfully difficult. A friend of mine seems to pass through it in an afternoon. Others take longer.
I had to put behavior behind my words and deliberately pursue change. The key was to name the loss, lay responsibility only where it belonged, give up looking for an explanation or apologies, and acknowledge the whole story to myself. I could begin to see that I was once victimized and am no longer a victim.
Forgiveness requires painful acknowledgment that grave harm has been done. Once we rid ourselves of denial and dig up those bitter roots, planting the seeds of Christmas peace can begin.
Today’s Helpful Word
An honest witness tells the truth; a false witness tells lies. Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.
If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.
If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!
Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair. NOTE: Nancy is not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speaks only from personal experience and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
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