It’s sad to say, but most of us have been deeply wronged or hurt at some point in our lives. In some cases, we’ve been victims of others’ mistakes. In other cases, we’re victims of bad behavior or deeds by another. Or, perhaps, most commonly, we’ve been involved in relationships that dissolved or are severely damaged. Sometimes, we’re even at fault. And, sometimes, we’re angry with God.
Regardless of the source, our emotions can include anger, rebellion, resentment, guilt, pain, fear, and depression. We stuff it in or explode, to our own detriment. When people harbor grudges, it’s like an all-consuming cancer. It embitters us and gnaws at our insides. And, it affects our relationships and ability to trust others.
Conversely, there are remarkable stories about people who overcome tragic abuses, losses, and injustices and who go on to live amazing lives of joy and impact. Do you ever wonder how they recover and flourish while others in similar situations are consumed by bitterness and self-pity? What makes the difference?
It’s the freedom of forgiveness.
Isn’t it interesting that some of the most powerful and uplifting films and stories involve reconciliation and forgiveness? Could it be that we see what is possible if we can somehow muster the courage and tackle our fears?
In one of my all-time favorite movies, “Field of Dreams,” Ray Kinsella had a detached and dysfunctional relationship with his now-deceased father. The crux of this imaginative story was a “second chance” opportunity for Ray to reconcile with his dad and release the pain he had buried inside for many years. It’s an extremely powerful movie that challenges us to reconcile while we can … if we can.
Other great movie examples (and personal favorites) are: “Mr. Holland’s Opus” (father to son), and arguably, one of the most moving films of all, “Schindler’s List.” I dare you to watch the ending here and not be filled with emotion. I know I can’t!
The Bible is also filled with beautiful examples of reconciliation and forgiveness. There’s Joseph with his brothers who sold him into slavery. Saul with God. The Prodigal Son with his father. And, the most wonderful of all: God and His people through the Cross.
Reconciliation and forgiveness are also among the most powerful themes that will inspire you in I’m Not Ashamed. Rachel Scott demonstrates these vividly in her relationships with Nate, Celine, and Maddie. It’s especially poignant with Maddie who betrayed her and yet receives Rachel’s forgiveness. Rachel’s example is also what brought several of her friends to Christ.
Is there someone in your life who has caused pain that continues to gnaw at you? If so, pray about it and consider reconciling if you can. The resulting freedom will lift your spirits and improve your outlook on life! It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.