Conflict & Forgiveness

I’m struggling today. We’ve been talking to the kids in our youth ministry a lot lately about forgiveness. About letting go of grudges and realizing how much happier we are and how much better we’re fulfilling God’s plans for us when we have a forgiving heart. About how counter-productive it is to withold forgiveness. Some teens have a harder time with that than others. Typical adolescent self-esteem issues sometimes manifest themselves in a need to turn self-loathing outward.

But my problem today is, my own words are echoing in my ear. I’ve got a situation with a person who I need to forgive. I KNOW I need to forgive this person before I can move on to resolve the underlying conflict issue. But somehow, I’m just not getting there.

Why is forgiveness so hard? Why is it so easy for us to tell other folks to “let it go” and offer forgiveness, but so difficult for us to do it ourselves? I mean, I’m praying hard to find forgiveness here, but somehow the cutting words keep echoing in my mind. My self-talk keeps returning to the anger I want to express, the “how dare you” attitude and the “who the h*** do you think you are?” retort. I can’t quit focusing on what I think is wrong with the person instead of how to get past it and find some resolution.

I guess we’ve all lived through these kinds of situations. There’s always someone around us–at work, in our families, at church or school–who just rub us the wrong way, and somehow don’t “get it” the same way we do. Sometimes it’s just a pure personality conflict…two strong-willed people who see things in very different ways. Other times, though, it’s just an inability to see things from someone else’s perspective. We get angry at folks for not understanding us, when really they just have an entirely different set of circumstances they’re coming from. Maybe sometimes those are the hardest times to offer forgiveness because we have to fess up to the part of the conflict we have to own ourselves.

Of course, there are so many complexities in relationships and situations that you can’t take a cookie-cutter approach to forgiveness. Maybe that’s where God is challenging me in this situation…to realize that there is another level of growth that needs to be reached before I can take the next step in his plan for me. Maybe sometimes forgiveness takes a bolder step of faith.

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