If there is such a thing as a universal experience, being hurt might top the list. If you live long enough, someone will do something, intentionally or not, that directly causes you great pain, and sometimes forever changes the trajectory of you life. If you think that’s never been you, let me know when you come out of denial. For the rest of us, take a second and think about the wound that most naturally comes to mind.

When you have it clearly identified (that usually takes about two seconds) I can tell you something about it. It’s one of two things; either it’s a recent wound and in the front of your mind, or an older, deeper hurt that you have carried deep in your heart. Probably for a long, long time. Am I right so far? Let’s keep going. Here are a few hard, but helpful things to consider when choosing how we respond to being violated:

• Recognize that no one is perfect
• Give up your right to be right and your right to get even
• Don’t let them take away your personal happiness
• Don’t forget – remember so you can see it coming if it happens again
• You may be the target of someone’s anger without being the source
• Pray for the person who hurt you. It’s hard to pray for someone and hate that person at the same time

So what keeps us from doing these things? My gut tells me that the first obstacle upholds assumptions about forgiveness that are not true. See if this helps. Forgiveness is NOT:

• Excusing the behavior
• Denying or minimizing the effects
• Resuming the relationship without change
• Not forgetting
• Not absolving the offender from the consequences of the offense

Perhaps now it seems a little easier to walk over that bridge. But if you need some more reasons, hang on to these three. We can forgive someone because:

• Resentment doesn’t work. Swallowing anger only eats us up inside
• We need forgives – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. “ That part of the Lord’s Prayer is a dangerous one
• Lastly, we forgive because we have been forgiven. It’s not right to deny others the grace that we have been so freely given

Ponder over those things. Talk to someone about it if you need help getting over the obstacle of offense. Pray about it and start by choosing one thing in each grouping to believe and to practice. You may be surprised at what you are capable of turning loose of. Then join us Sunday when we tackle “What to Do When You Get it Wrong.”