So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart. (Mt. 18:35)
The man was a respected leader in town. The man also had a secret life. During business trips he indulged in risky behavior. In time, he contracted a disease that eventually took his life.
Let me call his wife Barbara. When she learned that her husband was dying, she also learned that he had been unfaithful. Although I provided some solace to him during his final days, I wasn’t able to effect any reconciliation between them.
I’d hoped that after her husband’s funeral Barbara’s anger might abate. Not so. In fact, she became even more bitter.
One day she told me that her anger was killing her. She asked what she should do. I was at a loss because she had already rejected several support groups and fired several therapists.
One morning in prayer, it became clear that Barbara and I needed to visit her husband’s gravesite to have another funeral—the funeral of her anger. She agreed to go. When we got there Barbara started cursing and hurling rocks against her husband’s gravestone.
After she was spent, we sat together for a long time. Barbara then began to cry. She knelt at her husband’s grave. She confessed she had been cold. She expressed sorrow for the pain she had caused. She asked for his forgiveness. She extended hers. She thanked him for the good things. Barbara then got up and said she was ready to leave.
Within days I began receiving phone calls about Barbara. People were stunned to see that her anger was simply gone. They wanted to know what had happened.
What had happened was that during the “anger-funeral” Barbara had forgiven her husband from her heart.
If we need to forgive someone from our heart, I encourage us to have a “funeral” for our anger or hurt or whatever emotion is keeping us from letting go.
Barbara’s anger was indeed killing her. Jesus didn’t want her to die that way. Nor does He want us to die that way. Jesus invites us to have our own “funerals” through forgiving others from our hearts so that we may live.
- Do you need to have an “anger-funeral” so that you can forgive someone from your heart? If so, when are you going to do so?
- Sometimes we don’t want to have an end to our anger because we like chewing on it, relishing it, growing it. If this is true for you, when are you going to see that you are poisoning your own heart?
- Barbara’s husband had betrayed her. If Barbara had continued to hold onto her anger, she would have undermined, even betrayed, her desire to live. Have you ever so undermined and betrayed yourself?