Sin and forgiveness are two things we all struggle with. We wound; we are wounded. Forgiveness can be hard, especially in communities such as the church and a local congregation. I believe more people have left churches over unresolved conflicts than those who have joined. That may be an exaggeration but not by much.
When we bear grudges and carry around hurts we are the ones who really suffer. Why would I want another person to take up negative space in my heart and life without paying any rent? By forgiving I release that space for another who needs my respect and attention. Unresolved guilt over lack of resolution after another person has died is a major cause of mental anguish.
People do hurt us emotionally – sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. Jesus’ teaching implies that if we are aware of such an infraction that we should be the ones to make the first movement toward resolution. Holding grudges or even just “hurt feelings” can be a cause of major physical illness. It’s simply not worth it!
Staff member Sandra Lutters related the following story in her monthly report to the congregation council. I believe it is a good example of what we are talking about. And a great personal story.
I would hope that people are aware that while they may have a strong dislike for a certain song or style of music, that another person on the same pew may love that piece of music and find it very meaningful.
Neither person is right or wrong in my opinion. I do believe that to be kind towards each other, not insulting but tolerant, understanding and not judgmental, would go a long way in making our services the beautiful worship experiences they are meant to be.
I will share with you why I learned to be tolerant of other people’s musical tastes when I was asked to accompany a singer at a funeral in Atlanta when I was only sixteen. She was a fine singer with many accolades in her honor. She was asked to sing what she referred to as “a schmaltzy old chestnut that didn’t need to be heard again.” That old chestnut happening to be “Abide with Me.” She performed it beautifully and afterwards one of the family approached her with eyes brimming with tears to thank the soprano for her meaningful rendition of the hymn. The soprano cut her off before she could even complete her sentence with a proud and indignant “Oh, I usually sing much better music than that! I don’t know why they chose that old thing!”
The woman looked very crest-fallen to have been slapped in the face for a compliment and to be told that her musical taste lacked sophistication. She wandered off whispering about her mother singing it to her when she was a little girl. I followed her but she disappeared very quickly into the crowd and I was left feeling very sad for her but a lot wiser regarding what not to say.
The experience made a deep impression on me and I am frequently saddened by how cruelly we treat each other in our efforts to be clever or erudite, myself included.
Thank you, Sandra, for a fine example of how we should treat each other with love, respect and dignity. Come Sunday and hear “the rest of the story.”
In Christian love.
Forgiveness – Release and Resolve ctk1125web