As imperfect humans, the progress we yearn for in our lives comes to a grinding halt when we fail to forgive. Often we dwell on this hurt or that injustice to the point where we live in worlds of bitterness and pain. This week has been particularly difficult for me as I struggle to let go of the unforgiveness which has kept me from following my call to serve others.
My biggest struggle to forgive centers on Christianity in general and the church I was raised in more specifically. I hear a lot of "Christians" out there spouting ideas about following Jesus' example. Do good works. Love your fellow man. Turn the other cheek. Serve others. They are all brilliant, worthwhile endeavors. The part I have a problem with is when "Christians" talk up these ideas but don't put them into practice. I see so many "Christians" lie, back-bite, cheat, judge, hate, etc. it appalls me. Many people are so turned off by the hypocrisy they refuse to even listen to the good in the message. While I am by no means perfect, I would much rather preach through my actions than through my words.
Because of unforgiveness, I have allowed the church I grew up in to hurt me to the point of leaving it even though I still feel God's call to stay there and serve. I use as my excuse the idea I am not spiritually fed there. I argue I can be blessed more in my quiet time with God than in all the hours I spend at church. Church is a waste of time. The reality is these are bogus arguments. In point of fact, I know how to have a relationship with God, and I hear Him calling me to help others find the way back.
Over time, I have let specific hurts involving my church pile up. I attended my church sponsored college and saw much hypocrisy there. I worked as a tour guide at church historic sites several summers and witnessed non-loving actions taken by church leaders. I heard stories about church leaders dealing with dissenters in petty and careless ways, not from the people they hurt but from other leaders who questioned the actions but said nothing. I felt judged by a church bigwig when she asked why I still attended church when I was not fed by it. My answer was I still felt called by God to be there,but she didn't take the time to listen to or comprehend that concept. More recently, I felt some of my service called into question, not because of anything I did but because of choices made by others. I felt as though any good I had done was tainted and unworthy.
What it all boils down to is this: unforgiveness keeps us focused on the past. Holding on to these hurts only leads to stagnation and ultimately disease. We have to be able to let go of the past in order to attend to the actions necessary for today. My choice is clear. I choose to let it all go so that I may forge ahead.