Relationships are hard. Be it parent/child, sibling, spouse, friend, co-worker, acquaintance we are bound to have conflict. We are going to have misunderstanding, offense, strain, and, sometimes division. But that is never the end of the story.
It is interesting how often it is easier to walk away from our valuable relationships (whether physically or emotionally) than offer forgiveness which might build a bridge across the gap of frustration, anger or hopelessness.
More often than not, we just throw rocks at each other until nothing remains but a banged up, dented in, gnarled vestige of a relationship. Something that was once of great value. Destroyed by our own hands.
I was taught that being a good steward of what is valuable helps to maintain the value.
My dad will tell you that as soon as you drive a new car off the lot, the monetary value drops immediately. However, regular upkeep and maintenance preserves the amount of pleasure and use you receive from an investment you deemed worthy to make. You certainly do not take a sledge hammer to that investment because it got a flat tire, ran out of gas or worse yet shows signs of wear in the interior. You fix the problem.
Every relationship I have ever entered into held a valuable place in my heart when I entered into it. As I look back, those lost relationships most commonly disintegrated because we hurt each other and instead of repairing the damage, we chose to cripple it by withholding forgiveness.
On the other hand, I’ve seen how forgiveness builds a bridge that afforded the opportunity to reclaim and restore what was lost.
Forgiveness is tricky. It’s often discussed and acknowledged as necessary but rarely operated properly. Basically, I believe, because we do not believe it holds any real power.
As a young car owner, I used to scoff at the idea that regular oil changes were necessary until I experienced a few break downs. Wisdom and experience have shown me how stupid my thought processes were at the time.
Forgiveness is the oil change of a relationship.
It is vital to empty the heart on a regular basis of the gunk that is causing the relationship to break down.
Pride will cost us our happiness. Stubbornness will devalue what we once held dear. Maintaining the gap between us imprisons our hope and replaces it with anger, bitterness and contempt.
Sadly, we think walking out is the answer to restoring happiness. Have you ever listened to two people who ended a relationship…there is nothing joyful, or happy resounding from their being (and cut the air with a knife if they are within 2 feet of each other). True happiness is never restored until they reach the place of forgiveness and move on.
So, why do we withhold forgiveness in the first place?
I’m not sure I have the answer to that one.
I do know this, in my own life, I am seeing the value that “forgiving quickly” produces in my own heart. I see my relationships maintaining a happier level. And retaining my investment is rewarding (and less painful than parting ways).
We’ve all heard “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath”. It means apply forgiveness quickly, regularly. The heart can’t function properly without it.
The truth is…A happy relationship is made up of two good forgivers.