The Symptoms of Unforgiveness
Don’t you just hate having a cold! From the stuffiness to the fever and headaches,coughs, sneezes, thousands of tissues! Having a cold and being sick is not fun (even if that means a day off from work or school). Well did you know unforgiveness also has symptoms?
Let’s take a look at four characters and two situations in 2nd Samuel (I’ll do an overview but take a deeper look at 2nd Samuel 6:16-23 and 2nd Samuel 13-15). I love the story of David. Many of us know Him as God’s beloved, the shepherd boy that killed the giant with a slingshot and the greatest King to rule over Israel. But there are so many intricacies within his story that get hidden behind his seeming perfection which he was far from. After David kills Goliath, he is given Saul’s youngest daughter, Michal, to be his wife. There’s a lot of drama and backstory that goes into why she was chosen, but ultimately, she is in love with David. She loves him so much that she helps him escape her father’s attempts to murder him and she ends up being married off to someone else for more than a decade. When David finally returns from exile, they can get the chance to start over. But wait…he comes home with baggage: new wives, new children and an unquenchable thirst to continue to please God. Michal flips out. She has none of those things with David, and she really doesn’t understand why He can continue to love and honor God when they’ve been through so much. For her I believe that she feels he owes her something, all his attention, all his time and ALL his of affection. She sacrificed everything for him and wants him to do the same. David low-key (kinda high-key) tells her she’s trippin’ and that’s she’s going to be disappointed because he can’t give her what she wants. So, Michal lives the rest of her life in isolation, full of anger and hurt, andwithout the love or the children that she desired.
Fast forward we have three of David’s children. One of his sons, Amnon, is in love with his half-brother, Absalom’s, sister therefore his half-sister, Tamar. Amnon ends up raping Tamar and Absalom thus protects her by providing her a place to stay since she can no longer be married or the situation revealed publically because of the shame attached to it during that time period. Tamar goes into hiding for the rest of her life, and Absalom holds his anger towards his brother for about 3 years before killing him. He then goes into exile and David wants him dead; however, David changes his mind about killing his son. But despite this change of mind, his heart has not changed and he refuses to see ortalk with Absalom.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but a common thread is these characters are holding hostilities and anger and unforgiveness inside themselves. There is no room for peace. For Michal, she misses out on the life she always wanted because she’s stuck in the time that was lost. For Absalom he must go into exile because his anger drives him to kill his brother, and he loses out on helping his sister grieve and heal from her traumatic experience. Absalom then is so resentful towards his father he leads a rebellion against him in which he ends up losing his life. And David, at the center of it all, cannot find the tools for empathy in these moments nor can he live in forgiveness and grace to help his family heal. There is a lack of healing, a lack of peace, a lack of love and a lack of consultation with God (God gets pushed out of the frame as a distant figure) throughout these stories. Sadness, resentment, anger, chaos and strife are what remains. And the problem is not that one cannot go through these feelings as I’ve mentioned before, but the problem is staying in them.
I remember how angry I would get being in the same room as my dad. The slightest thing he said could really set me off! I was always uneasy and always angry. My whole attitude and day would shift because of these interactions. At times, my perception was that it didn’t phase him making me even angrier. My anger towards my father presented and continues to present (despite our tremendous growth) spiritual and emotional barriers I must break down. This anger and frustration definitely seeped into other relationships as well as my most important one: with God. I was so angry at God for my circumstances because as the spiritual representation of my physical it seemed as if God didn’t care either. It produced insecurities, isolation and a range of emotions. All of which I tried to project onto my father or other individuals I’ve withheld forgiveness from; meanwhile, they continue in life basically unaffected while the illness of unforgiveness deteriorated me inside.
Forgiveness actually has nothing to do with giving up to the other person. It actually has nothing to do with them at all, but has everything to do with us.
- Who am I still holding out on forgiving?
- What emotions do have I built up around them?
- Who have I consulted about them? Have I consulted God?
- Is there room for healing and peace?
Last post in this series coming soon!