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Friday, January 13, 2012

Revenge and Recovery

When we talk about forgiveness and resentment, we are talking about a major stumbling block to sobriety.  Many people become addicted when trying to drown out the memories of what was done to them rather than letting go.

Christ commands us to forgive: why?  Because only by forgiving can we ourselves receive forgiveness, but also because holding onto resentment is poisonous.  So, why do we want to hold onto the sins against us?

Most of us really are holding out for revenge.  We want to get back at the other, to 'settle the score.'  Most of our popular movies are about revenge, and it is a theme that runs through even our view of manhood: real men don't let others 'get away' with doing harm.  We all harbor in inner 'Dirty Harry.'

But revenge does not heal, and very often those who avenge themselves find little comfort in it, because it does not erase the sin.  rather, it just adds one more.  In the end, the person who sins against us not only victimizes us, but controls our thoughts and actions.

Unconsciously, most people hold onto resentment because they are holding out for revenge.  They feel that by forgiving, so how the other person will escape punishment.  They will remain whole, and we who were sinned against will remain less than due to the sin.  Something has been taken from us, and ultimately it is a loss of power.

We must accept the reality: we have no power at all.  Only God has power.  Therefore, our real need is not to take revenge but to be healed.  The other person is not part of that healing.  It is only between ourselves and God.

Once we see this primary relationship between ourselves and God, then the need to exact revenge and told onto resentments becomes meaningless.  We see that God permitted us to be harmed, but only so that He could heal us.  This healing, however, does not make us a weaker, scarred version of our old selves.

We believe that Christ heals us with His humanity.  We become something renewed.  But, this can only be accomplished when we give up the resentment.

This is why hoping for revenge is pointless: it does not heal us, and it keep God from healing us.  We must give up on this delusion, and turn all of our hope to God.

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