I think the hardest thing that I have faced, is the people who were hurt by my failures, who cannot forgive me. There are many people whom I love very dearly who would not even, spit on me today. Some of those people I trained in the ministry. One pastor who I grew up with, attended public school with, graduated from high school with, taught to win souls with, will have nothing to do with me, and in fact, has contempt towards me. Another young man, that I trained in the ministry, who even took many of my responsibilities when I left first Baptist Church in Hammond, and who probably I felt the closest to, of any of my own preacher boys, despises me to this day. He has absolute contempt for me. Then, there are the former church members, Sunday school class members, preacher friends, former staff friends, and so many others. It’s a long list for me.
I will not deny that it hurts. It really does. I can’t think of anything I would rather do than to be reconciled with the these people, but I hold out very little hope of that happening in this lifetime. Your list may be smaller than mine, but there are probably people who will never forgive you for hurting them. The funny thing is, that you didn’t sin against them, but they felt disappointment and hurt, so they cannot, will not get over it. So, what can we do about these people? Let me give you a few suggestions.
1. See the good in them, even if they do not see the good in you. Remember, their good qualities. Do for them what they are not doing for you. Be gracious in your attitude towards them. Don’t judge them harshly, just because they are struggling to forgive you.
2. Don’t fret about it. I could even say, don’t grieve over it, because I think that’s how I feel sometimes. I grieve over friends who have been lost, much like I would, when I lose a loved one to death. I have to control that, lest it discourage me too much. Be careful, not to let the pain and hurt of their unforgiveness overwhelm you.
3. Anticipate the day when reconciliation occurs. No, it probably will not be in this lifetime, but in Heaven. Yes it’s going to happen. They are going to remember their bitterness, but I believe there’s going to be a sweet reunion and reconciliation with those who could not forgive on earth. I truly believe that there will be some tears of joy, and even sorrow as we talk to each other and mend the fences that were broken. We’ll see things so differently then. We will understand so much more. I look forward to that day. I really do. I’m one of those people who not only looks forward to seeing loved ones who have gone on before me, but I also look forward to being reunited with people who are still here, but are dead to me because they cannot forgive me.
4. Love those who do forgive you and cherish them. Value the ones who have forgiven you and appreciate them for the grace they have shown to you. I spend much more time rejoicing in those who extend me grace, than I do worrying about those who won’t.
5. Don’t do the same thing to others as some have done to you. Forgive. Forgive everyone. I have to tell you, I can’t stand unforgiveness because I know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it. To have people who won’t forgive, and then for me not to forgive others is a double-edged sword, that makes no sense to me. “ See that none render evil for evil unto any man.” Forgive, even those who won’t forgive you.
6. Don’t let their unforgiveness make you feel unforgiven. This is huge. I feel totally forgiven. I’m wearing the robe, the ring, the shoes and I have feasted on the fatted calf of the Father’s forgiveness. I’m sorry my elder brothers won’t come in, I really am. But I am not going to feel unforgiven, just because the elder brothers can’t forgive me. The most important forgiveness is from the Father, and I have that. I’m not going to allow myself to miss out on the joys of the forgiveness of my father merely because I have some brothers who won’t come and celebrate with me.
When I write something like this, I get a bit melancholy. To be honest, this is a hard article to write for me. I don’t like to think about these things, because there is sadness thinking of it. But, I want others to be helped by some of the lessons that I have learned. May God give us the grace to accept the fact that some will never forgive us, and will never give us a second chance. We must go forward, refusing to allow their unforgiveness to stop us from what God has in store for us.(DH)