Matthew 18:21-2321 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Forgiving people is hard.
I don't think of myself as one to hold grudges, I know several people who can hold grudges for years for some pretty insignificant things. I try to forgive people and let things go.
There are several people I'm still in the process of forgiving. Various people for various things. Lying, breaking promises, bashing my dreams and chosen path, etc. The list is a little long.
Some of these people used to be close friends that I had for years. Now, while they are still my friends and I still love them, it's hard to be around them when we've all changed.
I was driving home from dance class on Tuesday and having my weekly car-talk with God. I use my 30-45min drive home to not listen to any music or radio and just talk to God. I don't feel silly because there's really no one else to hear me carrying on. I ask a lot of questions, thank God for what He's given me, prayed for my friends, sing praise songs (usually traditional hymns that I remember).
This past Tuesday I asked why I can't forgive these people, I want to forgive them and I want to move past these things that are holding me back.
Ever have those moments when God just speaks to you? Well, the words "Seventy times Seven" came into my head and made me think for a good portion of the drive.
Forgiving people isn't about saying I forgive you and then letting everything go. I've tried to do that so many times.
Forgiving people is making the choice to forgive them each time you think about how they wronged you. Seventy times seven equals four hundred and ninety. Let's take a look at that in numbers:
I will have to forgive someone 490 times before I can truly let things go. I don't think I've even come close to that with any of the people I'm trying to forgive. In all honesty, it might take longer than 490. But I think the point is that you have to make the effort each time someone angers you. Each time a memory and a biting question rises up in you, you have to make the effort to forgive them. Eventually (or 490 times later), you'll be able to forgive them and put everything behind you.
This doesn't mean that I don't love these people. I love each and every one of my friends, and I've been trying to work on the idea that God calls us to love everyone. But sometimes your friends hurt you and then you are called to forgive them.
I didn't really like the idea of forgiving people 490 times, over and over again. I really wanted a quick fix. I don't think a "quick fix" is possible in this case. It took me a little while to get used to that idea. 490 times of forgiving each person. That's a long walk. It might not take that long for some people, it might take longer for others.
At least I'm not alone while I walk this road.