Quick link: Seventy Times Seven, Conflict and Forgiveness

Today I’m at A Life Overseas writing about forgiveness. One of the hardest things for expatriates to do is get along with each other. Spouses, coworkers, teammates…everyone is in a pressure cooker of culture shock, language learning, loneliness, expectation…and sometimes things explode. I share a story, though not about a conflict we experienced overseas, and the beginnings of what we’ve learned about forgiveness.

conflict

I used to think that when Jesus said to forgive seventy times seven times, he meant that people would be so mean, so sinful, that they would keep sinning against me (and I against them) and I should forgive each new transgression as readily as the first. And forgiving them looked something like accepting their apology, shaking their hand, or kissing their cheek and hugging, and saying, “I forgive you.”

That seemed challenging but easy enough. I could offer a limp hand or a sideways hug, mumble the words in a quiet voice, and move on. One sin against me, one forgiveness offered, voila, the scales were balanced. And vice versa.

Until this method stopped working. Until a friend hurt me so deeply I couldn’t breathe. Until mumbling, “I forgive you” didn’t erase the anger, bitterness, and sick feeling. Until she bolted so quickly there was no time for shaking hands and I couldn’t accept an apology that has never been offered.

What does forgiveness look like then?

Click here to read the rest of Seventy Times Seven, Conflict and Forgiveness

*image via Flickr