Unpacking Forgiveness: Should I Just Get Over It?

"Just get over it."

Has anyone said that to you? Depending on the circumstance, when someone says that to me I usually don't like it. It tells me that my opinion does not matter. It tells me that when I am trying to stand up for what I believe is right the other person could care less.

No one likes to feel as if they are not important, but aren't there times when "Just get over it" is the best advice we could receive?

When my three boys were little, they often nitpicked at each other and squabbled over issues. Serving as judge and jury (a trial to the court, if you please) I would hear each side and then attempt to mete out justice. This worked well most days, but there were times when the argument would continue despite my best efforts. On these days I would end up yelling "ENOUGH!" over the noise. It would grow silent and then the 'buts' would start:

"Yeah, but he did ..."

"But, Mom, he ..."

"Enough!" I would exclaim again. "I don't want to hear anymore. You guys just need to forgive each other and go on. And, if you can't get along, perhaps you need to clean your room until you can."

That usually fixed the problem. They would suddenly remember how much they liked each other and begin playing again.

In his book Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers to Complex Questions and Deep Wounds, author Chris Brauns writes, "Can you think of a time in your marriage or friendships that you blew something up when you should have let it go? This brings us to an important truth: we do not need to formally resolve every conflict that takes place. Some offenses need to be dropped."

I think we can all answer "yes" to the question about blowing things up. Knowing when to drop an issue takes a certain degree of discernment. I have found that this discernment is just not available when I am holding a grudge or if I refuse to think that the other person may be right, or at least partially right. Therefore, I must continually allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate a spirit of humility in me.

"Each time you are offended, you need to wisely decide whether or not you need to bring it up. Only you can make that decision," Brauns writes.

Brauns provided several "diagnostic questions" to ask ourselves when a problem arises:

1. Before confronting, ask, "Have I examined myself yet?"
2. Before confronting, ask, "How sure am I that I am right?"
3. Before confronting, ask, "How important is this?"
4. Before confronting, ask, "Does this person show a pattern of this kind of behavior?"
5. Before confronting, ask, "What do wise people counsel me to do?"
6. Before confronting, ask, "What else is going on in the other person's world?"

I won't provide Brauns' full explanations. I just want to provide a framework for your information. I really suggest you obtain the book in order to study further (your local library should be able to get for you) because Brauns has good practical advice for everyday issues. What it all boils down to is whether or not we let love cover over offenses, or should we confront in order to get it off our chest. The thing to remember is that whatever you decide, love should be at the heart of what you do. If you choose not to confront, don't talk about what a slimeball the person is to everyone else. If you can't let it go, talk to the person. If someone comes to you with a problem, offer to help him or her talk to the offender, Brauns writes. Don't allow yourself to get caught up in gossip. That will just make the problem worse.

On Thursday we'll discuss how you can go about confronting people. See you then.