Forgiveness Times Seventy

Lent is a good time to talk about forgiveness and how many times we should be willing to forgive someone. Things happen all year long; every day of our life. Forgiving seven times, or seven times seventy means to continually forgive others and self. Seven times seventy is really such a broad number that I believe it means not to keep track of offenses or how many times we’ve forgiven someone. It means to just keep on forgiving. Sometimes we make the same mistake over and over again. And sometimes, we keep reliving a hurt over and over. So, we are called to keep forgiving so that we can live our best selves at all times as much as possible. We are human. We’re going to hurt others – either by accident, on purpose because they hurt us, or unknowingly because we are simply repeating a pattern or cycle.

To Forgive or Not

Every day I meet resistance to forgiving others. And I do get this. I resist forgiving others, too, especially when the offender has proven to be callous, nonchalant, or repetitive in their insult or injury. When a person seems not to care about hurting others, like it’s not a big deal, it seems easier to not forgive them. And so, I get it when others are resistant and want to hold on to their hurt or want to call the other person out over and over and over again. Human nature is interesting in that we want justice for that which is wrong. The thing about this is it can set us up for being our own judge and jury. And it can also set us up for continuing to hurt over past grievances that should just be let go of – if we are seeking to be our best self.

Since I’m a firm believer that God is the only judge, it is difficult to witness these attitudes and not want to hug the offended person times seventy, so they can feel loved and not want to hold onto the bad that happened to them. Why? Because doing so – holding on to that feeling of hurt, is just as bad or worse than the injury or insult to them was at the time it happened. Hanging on to all that anger, hurt, disappointment, or desire for justice steals away a person’s joy. We must learn to forgive and “forget” as soon as possible. Just as Jesus did.

Giving Forgiveness

When a person comes to us seeking forgiveness, it is important to give it. We must consider that the person is truly repentant and sorry for what they did. Most people do not ask for forgiveness if they are not sorry. And, just imagine deciding we are sorry for something, seeking forgiveness for it, and then not having our request honored with grace and mercy. Not accepting the request for forgiveness is like slamming the door in the face of someone delivering news that we’ve won the lottery. This only creates more hurt, disappointment, and resentment. Giving forgiveness when someone seeks it provides a doorway to healing and – if it is desired – a better relationship.

Praying Helps

Being a strong believer in prayer, I have learned to pray for the perpetrator and for myself. I pray that the person who offended me realizes how their action or actions hurt myself or others. I pray that the person chooses to stop being offensive and opens their eyes to a clearer perspective of the situation. I pray that whatever is causing them to be hurtful, spiteful, or unkind that it eases and they instead feel remorseful but loved. And I pray for myself that I will not only offer forgiveness, if it is sought, but that I will give it – even if the offender does not seek me out. I also pray that if I am the one who did the hurting, either insulted them or disappointed them in some way, that I’ll have the courage to ask for the other person’s forgiveness.

We all have bad days. However, bad days do not give any of us a right to take our unhappiness out on others. Sometimes, we get so worked up with anxiety over something – a phone call, a job interview, a stress-filled workday, that we don’t even realize what we’re doing until it’s done. And then we’re horrified and embarrassed by the incident. In the meantime, those around us, or the person we’re speaking with on the phone has endured the brunt of our upset. It takes a big person to understand this was not about them but about us and what is happening in our life. And it takes humility, on our own part, to own up to simply being human and apologizing. Where did anyone ever get the idea that being sorry for our less than cool actions or words is a bad thing?

Owning Up to Our Part

Ideally, everyone wants the other person to admit their fault in the situation. Again, it takes a big person to take ownership for their part of anything. That old adage that it takes two to tango applies to everything. People are meant to live in connectivity. Communication and connection are important facets of this which means not just one person is responsible for making amends. It should never be about who did what, but about how we can move forward – together.

Forgiveness times seventy is a good place to start. In my case, there are times when forgiving times seven hundred and seventy-seven has been needed. This applies to forgiving others and to forgiving myself. There are all kinds of incidents that affect us negatively. It doesn’t just have to be slights between two or more people. It can be against ourselves. I’ve blogged about this before. If you’re feeling your life is not what it should be due to something that happened a very long time ago. Maybe it’s time to start thinking how to forgive that person, incident, or choice – times seventy.

There are times when I’ve had to forgive others, but mostly myself, for something that affected me later in life; things that happened when I was young but unaware of as being all that bad at the time. One such example is when I disobeyed my momma when I was in the first grade. I had just learned to read. I loved to read. And I was reading everything I could get my hands on, even my aunts and older cousins reading materials. Well, there’s a reason books have grade levels. I didn’t listen to my momma and I kept right on reading, reading magazines filled with short stories not meant for a little girl’s eyes. These pages of dark romance and illicit relationships haunted me for years. The guilt I felt for not listening to my momma was the worst. It took years for me to realize I had to forgive myself for being disobedient. Once I owned up to my part in this situation, I was able to move forward. The stories I read that weren’t meant for seven-year-old me started to fade into the background. I was able to start reading again with jubilant fervor from self-help to mystery to memoir and even romantic comedy.

Forgiveness is for All

I know several people who find it hard to forgive themselves or others for actions done to themselves or that which they have witnessed (or heard of) done to others. And, of course, there are those who cannot seem to take ownership for their own follies or blunders – it’s always someone else’s fault. Trying to teach them that forgiveness is for everyone is difficult. These individuals don’t want to hear it. They want to continually nail the other person to the cross. The sad part about this is being stuck in the same moment. While life is going on around them, they keep reliving those injustices – however big or small they were.

I can understand this thinking. I used to be there. But one day I realized how tired I was, and I got off that merry-go-round. I decided to forgive others and to forgive myself for all those things that were done – intentionally or unintentionally – to me or by me. I stopped holding it against myself for disobeying my mother so long ago. I stopped being disappointed in hubs for letting me down again and again. I stopped holding it against my siblings for making choices in their life that I didn’t agree with. And I stopped expecting others to meet my emotional needs. Instead, I learned ways to be more of my true loving and kind self. And I figured out how to achieve my dreams and goals without any unnecessary and unreasonable help from anyone. Although, I am deeply and forever grateful to and for those who do support me every day as a writer, author, and blogger, and as an individual – unique, mother, wife, sister, friend, hobbyist, fitness fiend, and so much more.

Making Room to Forgive

So, how can any of us forgive times seventy? Is it possible in your life to let go of old grievances, to let go of all those things – all those injuries – that have been keeping you from your best self? What are some things you can do instead to show yourself you are healed or moving toward a place of healing? Are you able to speak to the other person about how you feel? Is that even something you want to do? Are you able to view a situation from other angles to get a clearer perspective of what happened and how to move forward from it? Is that even necessary at this point? Are you able to give yourself a break and consider that what happened has helped you be a better person instead today?

Forgiveness times seventy isn’t easy. But when pondered on what that exactly means, it helps to see how forgiving once and moving on is easier than first expected. Forgiveness isn’t just something we do once in awhile or when we feel like it. Forgiving others – and our self – is and can be a part of who we are. Loving others means loving them enough to forgive them, too. We’re all human. And if we expect and hope to be forgiven, then we should be willing to do the same. Forgiveness is a good thing and can only enhance our emotional and spiritual lives. Forgiveness times seventy. How can we make room for this way of forgiving?

Whether it’s Lent or Ordinary Time, let’s start today…add forgiving to your morning and/or evening reflection time and see how this philosophy can improve your overall relationship with others – and with self. I’m thinking you will be pleasantly surprised – and relieved – not to have to carry that load of resentment, hurt, or betrayal around with you anymore. Sure, some things take time. But in time, it will get easier. And the joy you will reap and exchange for that grief will be more abundant than you could ever hope to hold in that giant but gentle heart of yours.

Keep lovin’, keep laughin’, and keep forgiving…it will be worth it.

Love & hugs, Virg

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