I saw an interesting story the other day online that I’ll paraphrase here. A lady bought a parrot and when she got it home it started a barrage of insults at her lasting for days. “You’re so ugly. I can’t stand you.” Tired of the ranting parrot, she put it in the freezer and closed the door. After a few minutes, the parrot got quiet. She opened the freezer and the parrot begged for forgiveness. “I’m so sorry. I’ll never do that again. I know I’ve been awful. Please forgive me!” The lady accepted the apology. Then the parrot asked, “What did the chicken do?”
I’m sure we would all be quick to seek forgiveness if we could truly see the consequences of withholding forgiveness. Why is it we have a hard time forgiving each other? When we have been hurt by our spouse, we tend to attack or withdraw. We are often left with residual hurt feelings, resentment, and bitterness. My passive aggressive tendency is to absorb the hurt until I am flooded; then I will attack. Either way, absorbing or attacking, we often hold on to our hurt feelings.
Picture this: When we withhold forgiveness, we by choice, go into a room, locking oueselves in. The room is filled with resentment, bitterness, anger and self-justification. “I have a right to be mad. Do you know what he did to me, again? How long do I have to put up with this?” We choose to remain a prisoner in a cell we have locked ourselves in. We are choosing to remain angry, bitter, or resentful.
But we can choose to love. We can choose to forgive. But how can we do that when we are so hurt? Good question.
Part of the answer may be a proper perspective. I remember years ago that I would get really upset if Darleen left the stove burner on after she finished cooking. She would remove the pot and forget to turn off the stove burner. I would get upset seeing it still on thirty minutes later, thinking it was such a waste. So how did I get over this little forgetfulness on her part?
First of all, it dawned on me that the burner being on may have cost twenty cents!! Big deal. What was I so upset about? Secondly, I thought what kind of bad habits do I have? And wouldn’t I want her to overlook my mess ups? You bet I would. I wanted to be forgiven, and so I knew I needed to forgive. The other thing I knew is that I shouldn’t make a big deal out of a little issue. Life’s too short to get all worked up about trivial issues.
Are you withholding your love from your spouse because you haven’t forgiven him or her? Are you locking yourself in a cell? I hope and pray you can choose love, because love is for giving. And choose forgiveness, because when you open the door of that cell and free yourself, you open your heart to intimacy. After all, you don’t want to end up like the chicken.