Unforgiveness is the illegitimate child who springs forth from the unholy union of Hurt and Fear. Here’s how this birth occurs in an individual’s life: Some form of pain comes to us which catches us off guard. A wound quickly opens and throbs there while we seek to regain our balance and understand what has just happened to us. We were not expecting this. We did not ask for this. An injustice has occurred and nobody warned us. Someone breached protocol. Someone took advantage of us or betrayed us or abused us. There are a thousand different weapons that can inflict this Hurt upon us but the eventual result is the same: Hurt couples with Fear and an unwanted child is conceived within us.
We never desire to have this mistreatment occur against us again, therefore we begin to live with a little bit of a relational force-field around us which deflects anything coming our way. This force-field seems to work because we believe it serves to shield us from anyone else who might not have our best interests at heart. What we do not recognize is that this same defense mechanism also keeps people who love us at a distance. The force-field is effective in that it prevents others from getting to us. It is ineffective in that it cannot distinguish between people who move toward us to help us, versus those who move toward us to harm us. Unforgiveness keeps everyone out and it is the price we pay – nobody is going to get close enough to us to ever do that kind of damage again. This is very bad because the highest degree of both love and hurt are experienced at close range. When we refuse to allow for the possibility of closeness with others, we lose powerful benefits of love and intimacy – all because Hurt and Fear have conceived something within us. Hurt and Fear get close to each other and eventually produce an offspring in our hearts which is named Unforgiveness, which is an extremely ugly child. It rages when it is not fed and fights ferociously when it is called into the light. It has sharp teeth and bites most everything coming its way. Unforgiveness is not unintelligent, for it regularly sorts through the facts in order to legitimize its own existence. Unforgiveness is a spoiled child from the beginning and has been taught by its parents, Hurt & Fear, that it deserves to be served, protected and coddled. Unforgiveness always tells us that we are the exception to the call to forgive like Jesus does. As Unforgiveness grows older it also grows colder. It lives life alone and only making room (albeit very little room) for those of whom it is assured will offer it no danger. There has never been a single human being who has lived happily while simultaneously seeking to live in self-preservation – but Unforgiveness does not want to believe that. It is very sad, but when we realize that we have taken custody of Unforgiveness and we now carry the child around with us, we must make the decision to give up our rights to raise it anymore. No more protecting it or feeding it. No more singing to it and encouraging it. It is a hard process, but Unforgiveness is a child we are called to abandon.
We have to turn over the child to a new set of parents: Grace and Mercy.
When this occurs we begin to see that Unforgiveness takes on a healthier tone. It becomes one that releases and listens. Unforgiveness begins to see others more clearly and begins to seek answers as to why others have inflicted their pain on it. Unforgiveness begins to loosen its grip and the effects of the new parents, Grace and Mercy, are actually changing this formerly ugly, hostile child into someone with meekness and gentleness. Unforgiveness breaks one day and cries heartfelt tears – no longer for itself – but for the wrongness of how it has been and something shifts in the heart. Unforgiveness requests a name-change from its new parents. So Grace and Mercy oblige and declare that the name Unforgiveness shall be no more. The once-ugly child, now made beautiful by Grace and Mercy will be called Hope. Hope learns to smile. Hope begins to risk it, something it never did when its name was Unforgiveness. Hope learns to laugh. Hope seeks out relationships with others and commits to vulnerability. Hope refuses to hold others hostage to their failures and Hope becomes both blessed and a blessing. Hope is being made wise and (risking the cliché) lives hopefully ever after.
I know all about this process. I have been the ugly, bitter, unforgiving child of hurt and fear. Through the forgiveness granted me by Jesus Christ, I now know what it means to be free of unforgiveness and to walk in hope. I encourage you to consider that the last brick in the dark dungeon that you have lived in might be this issue of unforgiveness. Come out of the dark and cold isolation. Give the forgiveness to others freely and fully. It won’t cost you what you think. Not doing so is already costing you more than you think. He invites you to come forth today if you will.