Every Tuesday morning this summer you will find 7-10 people at Ogilvie UMC studying “What’s So Amazing About Grace” written by Philip Yancey and on Sunday’s, immediately after worship, a group at Mora UMC shares a meal and studies the same book.
Our discussion around grace to others is most often focused on the challenges related to forgiveness. Forgiveness is hard.
United Methodists know we ought to be forgiving people. The Bible instructs us, “As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other,” (Colossians 3:13), but that is often much easier said than done. Letting go of resentment can be difficult.
“Overcoming harm is not a comfortable process,” Joshua Bynum, Clinical Director of the Methodist Counseling Center in Boise, Idaho acknowledges. “It’s a painful one.”
Grudges happen when we avoid that difficult process, and offer no movement toward healing. The hurt lingers.
“No matter what harm has happened in my life,” Bynum continues, “resentment about it is never going to help me; not forgiving is never going to benefit me.”
For those longing to come to a place of forgiveness, Bynum recommends we work to change that which we control.
Bynum instead encourages us to turn our focus inward because “the only person who has any control over whether or not I let go of resentment, is me.”
This may sound like we are letting the other person off the hook. We’re not. Instead, we are choosing to turn our attention toward things we can change in ourselves and letting go of that which we cannot change in the other person.
“There are things I can do to forgive another person that
include interacting with that other person,” Bynum explains. “I may be able to go and tell them why I have a resentment against them—what I feel they did wrong and what I’m trying to deal with—and maybe that would be helpful.”
Other times, however, that is not prudent or possible. The perpetrator may be a threat. A parent may no longer be living. The coworker may have moved on to another job.
None of this means we no longer have an opportunity to forgive. “You can have forgiveness without repairing a relationship,” Bynum states.
Forgiveness is about addressing the hurt within, and that work is not dependent upon anyone but us.
Forgiveness requires a difficult, inward journey, but as people of faith we know God travels with us.
It also helps during this tough time, to remember that you are one of God’s beloved children, especially when the harm tempts you to think otherwise.
Letting go of resentment is not easy. The journey can be long and unpleasant.
“It’s very difficult sometimes to do this work,” Bynum concludes. “That’s why it takes a little bit of time.”