Have you ever had the experience of hearing a sermon that could have been written specifically for you? That's what happened to me on Sunday. As a part of the series "Why Me?" Peter talked about how we can hold onto our anger when things happen, especially betrayal. At one point he asked everyone to close their eyes, and picture the person or thing they always get angry about. I immediately had four people pop into my head, and after a minute, I added one other person.
Peter showed a summary clip of "The Count of Monte Cristo." If you haven't seen it, the jist is that a man whose life is going really well is betrayed by his best friend and spends years in prison. When the man escapes, his life starts to turn around, which is clearly at God's hand. He threatens to lose all that, however, if he chooses to seek revenge on his friend. Revenge is tempting. I totally understand that. I may not want people's lives to fall apart, but I've definitely wished that the people who hurt me would be hurt back.
The point is that when we pursue revenge, we are saying that we don't trust that God will bring about his perfect justice. It's amazing how many things come down to whether or not we trust that God is in control, isn't it?
I have recognized that I get angry because I'm afraid of getting hurt again or of re-experiencing the hurts I already have. There is a person on Facebook with whom I am not friends but have several friends in common. When I see this person's name, I tense up. I have a physical reaction. I don't hate this person; it's just easier to be angry and bitter than to deal with how raw the pain still is.
Choosing to forgive is NOT easy. Forgive and forget is a lie. We don't forget when we've been wronged. But we can choose to let go. So a few minutes ago, when I saw that person's name on Facebook, when I had a second where the anger and tension tried to rear its ugly head, I chose to take a deep breath, and let it go. I'm going to have to make a conscious choice to let it go each and every time. My prayer is that with God's help, it will get easier and easier to keep letting go, and that eventually it will be second nature to let go. It is a process. I see a professional counselor to help me work through stuff like this. I pray about it, and ask others to pray for me.
I have to say, that as familiar and easy as it can be to hold on to anger, it really is incredibly freeing to let go, to choose forgiveness.