- Walk a mile in her shoes
- Look at the problem from a different point of view
- Try to put yourself in their position
Each of us has a window through which we look at the world around us, and every person's window is distorted in some way. Maybe the glass is "rosy-colored"; perhaps it is tinted grey by hurt and pain; and if we've shut ourselves off from the people around us, it may even be completely opaque. Our window on the world is shaped by our experiences--both good and bad--and that window is how we see the people around us. It affects our interactions with everyone, from our closest friend to the grocery clerk. It even affects our view of God.
This is why Jesus admonishes us against judging one another in Luke 6:37-38:
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Our judgements of one another can never be balanced and can never be fair. Our condemnation of others will be based on our own hurts and grievances. Eventually, that condemnation morphs into a hardened heart--a heart that cannot forgive. Refusing to forgive someone changes our focus. All of the hurt and the anger are held close to our heart, where it can do the most damage. And the worst damage inflicted is that, in time, we will come to view God's ability to forgive just like ours, and we will believe that He cannot forgive us for what we have done to Him. Paul understood this and counseled the Church at Ephesus to avoid this trap in his letter to them:
"Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (Eph 4:32 NLT)
That's the beautiful thing about forgiveness--it changes things--it changes us! While it's true that our "window" can affect the way we see forgiveness, forgiveness can also change our "window".
Forgiveness can give each of us a new perspective on our past, our present, and our future. When I let go of the anger and pain I have carried, I can look back and see that the people who hurt me unintentionally don't deserve to be punished forever, and the people who hurt me intentionally don't deserve to continue to have that kind of power over me! As Ann Landers once wrote
That's what Satan is trying to do and we are foolish if we let him continue to whisper into our ears his lie that we "deserve" to be angry for the ways we have been hurt. We deserve to move beyond anger and into healing. And that healing will ONLY come through forgiveness.
“Hanging onto resentment is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”
Yes, I know that some wrongs are so heinous that forgiveness is difficult. And, yes, I know that some people are physically, emotionally, and spiritually dangerous for us to have contact with. I'm not advocating letting someone dangerous back into our lives. I'm advocating getting them out of our lives, once and for all, by forgiving the wrong and letting go of the anger. Because, as long as the anger lives in your heart and mine--they are still in our lives, creating the window we see everything through.
These are the limits God is trying to set us free from; this is the perspective He wants so desperately to change for us. He suffered and died for every person in this world. For the people who have hurt you and the people who have hurt me. He wants to save them and restore them to a full and loving relationship with Him. God knows that when we grasp that fact, we will never again doubt His ability to love us and forgive us fully. Our judgement, our anger, and our refusal to forgive aren't hurting the person we are focusing these emotions and choices on. As long as we hold tight to that garbage pail of lies, we will never be able to reach up for what we need most of all--hope and forgiveness for OUR sins and the unfathomable love of God.