True forgiveness is a choice
DEAR CHAPLAIN >> My friend of over nine years took a necklace from my house without asking me. When I found out she claimed she was just borrowing it. That really hurt me to my heart and I stopped speaking to her. Now she wants to be my friend again. I really like hanging out with her, but how can I be her friend when I can’t trust her?
SIGNED, CAN’T FORGIVE OR FORGET DEAR CAN’T FORGIVE OR FORGET >>
When we give people something so precious as our trust and it’s broken, it hurts, deeply. As Christians, we have two choices when people injure us in our hearts: we can either forgive and stay in the relationship or we can forgive and keep them at a distance, not as punishment or to be hurtful, but rather to protect ourselves. But we must truly forgive because Jesus forgave us when He died on the cross for our sins, and He continues to forgive us when we break God’s trust, on a daily basis. (“And when you stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:2526) True forgiveness is a choice. It’s making a conscious decision to let go of a wrong that was done to us, and making that decision every time the wrong comes to mind or the subject comes up in conversation. We must constantly remind ourselves that we have forgiven that person and let it go, until it stops coming up and affecting us. Sometimes, we can forgive immediately, and other times we need a little time to recover to forgive. But forgive we must, and we must also choose to forget. Take note of Isaiah 43:25, which says, “I — yes, I alone — will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again (NLT). God says I will completely remove your sin and I will never think about it again.” As we see in the scripture, forgiveness is a two-step process, forgiving and forgetting. To receive God’s mercy, we must be merciful the way God shows mercy. So forgiving and forgetting is not only possible, but as a Christian it is a required discipline that must be learned. However, our friendships, who we give our trust to, and who we allow in our personal space is not, they are choices we must make wisely. Certainly, you can forgive and forget what happened, but only you know if restoring the relationship with your friend is a wise decision.
DEAR CHAPLAIN >>
I’ve been saying nightly prayers with my son, “Now I lay me down to sleep ... ” And the part “if I should die before I wake ...” upsets him, to the point he almost cried. I tried taking out that part but it isn’t helping. He’s only 3, how do I fix this, as I really want him to get into the habit of saying prayers and liking them?
SIGNED, SCARY PRAYERS DEAR SCARY PRAYERS >>
Thank you for your question. Prayers shouldn’t be scary but edifying, even for a child. Try teaching him the Lord’s Prayer, taken from Matthew 6:913. It’s biblical, it’s Jesus’ words and it’s a powerful prayer he’ll have in his heart for life. (“Our Father who art [lives] in Heaven, Hallowed [holy] be thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. In the name of Jesus, Amen.”)