Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The wrong kind of Forgiveness

I'm sorta stressed out about my blog. I want to be funny and charming, and a little more 'me' in my blog, but every time I sit down to write only serious stuff comes out. I've started and deleted probably 5 entries the last couple of days because I begin light and airy, and end in a very somber place. This is not what I want all my blogs to be about, and it's stressing me out.

But for now, I can't stop myself. I don't think I'm quite so somber in person, am I? But, if I'm not a downer in person, why do I create the kind of blog entries I do?

Somehow, I think its about forgiveness. More specifically, the wrong kind of forgiveness.

Christians are called by God to forgive, and we are taught by other Christians to forgive. But the problem is that some violations are so hurtful, so egregious that we can't just turn on a dime and forgive. I don't want to speak for others, but when that happens to me I feel even worse, like I'm not being a good person or good Christian because I can't forgive. So I put on a mask of forgiveness, and act like events haven't hurt me, like I've let go of the hurtful thing. But in reality, I have not; I'm working hard on forgiveness, but I just haven't gotten there yet. In the mean time, the unforgiveness festers and grows. It drives me to adopt certain behaviors so that I can't be hurt that way again. It drives me to act happy when in fact I'm torn apart inside because I don't want my Christian friends to see me in the throws of unforgiveness. I become light and airy because that's what it takes to be welcomed into relationships where I am loved.

Over time, however, the hurt subsides, and I stop working on forgiveness. But my behavior doesn't change. I make the same moves over and over again because they work, they make people like me, and they keep me from being hurt. In my opinion, this is the type of forgiveness that a lot of people practice. The wrong kind of forgiveness.

You see, what I've just described is forgetting but not forgiving, which is really no forgiveness at all. And so I go about life, thinking I've forgiven, when in reality, all I've done is forgotten. Yet underneath my amnesia, I carry wounds that affect my behavior, and I constantly make maneuvers in relationships to avoid getting hurt the same way again.

But as I allow God to color my days, I've become more aware of the maneuvers I make that aren't really me. As God travels in time to my past, he seeks out the places where I've changed my behavior to avoid more pain, and he shows me how to heal the hurts that underlie the behavior. And as I realize that I am actually in a place where I am greater than the person who hurt me - greater than the hurtful action and hurtful intent, I'm finally able to forgive. And if I'm deliberate about it, truly deliberate, I can change my behavior, too, so that I'm no longer living life to avoid getting hurt, but living life in which I can risk myself in authentic relationship.

So when I look in the mirror and see a man trying too hard, I wonder how well I'm grasping this concept of forgiveness. And when I encounter a Christian who doesn't act like one, I wonder if they really understand what forgiveness looks like. And when I encounter a non-Christian hiding behind the motions of self-preservation, I wonder how interested they'd be in the transforming power of real forgiveness.

So, why do I blog the way that I do? Maybe it's because only here I let go of enough inauthentic behavior to really express what's going on in my life. Maybe because in real life I'm still trying to get you to like me.

But it can't be this way forever - because I know there's an entertaining story in me somewhere, just waiting to get out.

9 comments:

alethia said...

ben, i enjoy your blog. you make people think. sometimes i feel like our society is afraid of thinking too much and wants to be entertained all of the time. i have always found you entertaining and i know you have funny stories just waiting to be told.

elly said...

Ben, I have a gift for amnesia. It's so much easier! But it not supposed to be about easy, is it? This made me think, which is a healthy exercise at my age. You know sometimes you are funny even when you are being deep and serious. Keep being authentic, as Jessica would say - "Dude,it's all about being real."

Amy said...

I like the "Serious Ben" and the "Fun Ben", let them both out, we can handle it!

Jessica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jessica said...

sorry,about that comment removal above--i had some errors and the english teacher in me just couldn't leave it worded that way!

i enjoy reading all of your posts, esp. the deeper ones that make me think. well, i like the funny ones that make me think in a "ben" kinda way, too. i've found that i get less comments on serious blogs, though...sometimes people don't have some quick comment on a deeper topic. so, i'm not letting that deter me, and you shouldn't either. not that either of us actually blog to see how many comments we will get! ;)

blog about whatever in the world you want to blog about...i promise you the minnesota passers-through and lorri will always be a captive audience for whatever pops into your most intriguing brain.

alethia said...

ben, where are you?

Jessica said...

ben broke one of his own blog rules. he hasn't posted in a week!!! i miss ben's posting...

Stacy said...

forgiveness...well i can honestly say that i haven't forgiven br#@n though i continue to pray that God will change me and enable me to truly forgive AND forget. but i know i haven't forgiven yet b/c i still want him to feel bad for his actions and i still feel the need to defend myself. until i can think about him and not have those feelings, i don't think i can say i've forgiven as Jesus forgave me. as far as affecting the way i act towards others, i don't think that has happened...other than telling a friend she had lost her ever loving mind when she was already using the L word with a guy she's been dating for less than 2 months...i think i would have told her that even before though.

Benjamin said...

I'm still around! I just got caught up in the Easter holiday and other things, and haven't had time to blog. I'll post a new one today.

And as far as breaking a blogging rule, I'm totally guilty. But I'm not dead. Some people would view that as a plus. Others? Well...