The Circle

The poet, Edwin Markham, had put aside a great sum of money for his retirement. When he went to the bank to withdraw from the account, however, he discovered that a “trusted friend” had plundered his nest egg, leaving him penniless.

Edwin now needed to write again in order to survive. He sat at his desk day after day but was unable to produce anything. He could think only of his loss. Bitterness and resentment were walls, shutting out his creativity. It was destroying his life.

One day, he began to doodle on the blank page before him. As usual, he could think of nothing to write. So, he drew circles on the paper.

Suddenly, as he gazed at the circles, he knew what he must do. Bowing his head in prayer, he poured out his resentment to God and asked for the strength to forgive.

Then he picked up his pen and began to write:
He drew a circle that shut me out,
Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in!

Has someone wronged you? Have you been hurt by a harsh word, a cruelty, a betrayal, or a snub? If so, you need to let go and forgive. Forgiveness really is a choice – and it’s for your own good.

“But she owes me an apology!” might say. It doesn’t matter. You must forgive anyway.

Forgiveness means adjusting our attitude. It is dealing with the bitterness so we can smile again. It is resolving the issues rather than allowing them to fester. You don’t need “permission” from the one who offended you to do that.

The Jewish philosopher, Hannah Arendt, remarked, “Forgiveness is the only power which can stop the stream of painful memories.”

The Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Can you honestly say these words? Are you able to release your resentment and forgive the one who hurt you?

Never is a human soul so strong as when it dares to forgive an injury.


Anonymous said…
Maybe the biggest obstacle to forgiveness is thinking the other person has to meet us halfway...or part-way...even though that isn't what Jesus taught. So while we wait for the other person to show some remorse, instead of forgiving, we just excuse them for their shortcomings and try to forget about it. But excusing someone is just a mental game; forgiveness involves the heart and soul.

And how much more difficult to forgive a trusted friend, or a trusted Christian friend, when they refuse any attempts to reconcile...but we can't forgive unless we WANT to forgive.
Dave Q said…
Thanks Mark. That is very good.

I know when I have chosen to forgive in the past it has freed me and I have felt lighter. It just takes so much energy to hold a grudge.
Anonymous said…
Even when forgiving, sometimes you have to remove yourself from the evil surroundings or you will be drawn in again.
Anonymous said…
Does God forgive us of our sins before we ask for forgiveness or does God forgive us after we have asked for forgiveness?

I think you can move on with your life but I am not sure that you can forgive someone who has not asked for forgiveness with a humble heart.
Anonymous said…
I think God forgives us whether or not we ask....we just need to RECEIVE the forgiveness that's already there, through confession and repentance.

In the same way, with God's pure love, we can forgive those who hurt us deeply--IF we love them. Though they may never desire reconciliation or acknowledge the pain they've caused, our heart must forgive and ask nothing more.

The hard part is, loving them. It's human nature to just stop caring.
Anonymous said…
I my case, I did forgive and overlooked chruch people acting badly toward any one not in their group. When they were mean to me and others I chalked to up to them just being stupid.

It was like putting a bandade on a broken leg. The knuckel heads who were doing and saying the stupid things never would admit they were doing anything wrong. The only ones who looked at the over all picture and saw the hurt was people not in the group.

I finally decided that my attitude and outlook on life was not going to be determined by a few bad people.

In my heart the forgivness is there if any of them are willing to ask for it. If they do not ask for it, How can a person forgive a crime that has never been acknoledged that it happened?

Maybe if I put a few knots on their heads, I could ask them for the forgivness that they refuse to ask me for. In that case there would be no doubt of what I was asking forgivness for. ..Grin,,

A pain in the heart is hard to see and much harder yet to heal.

Anonymous said…
Dear Walt,
We love you man! It sounds as if you have really been hurt. If you decide to hit someone in the head, be prepared to offer an appropriate apology. Do not say, "If I have done anything to hurt you, I am sorry". Please say, "I am sorry I hit you in the head. I know how much that must have hurt. Please forgive me". And say it with a humble heart. Really Walt, you need to apologize to the knuckle-heads for even contemplating hitting them in the head.
Anonymous said…
My biggest question is..."Are we to forgive anything, regardless how horrible the crime, without holding the offenders accountable? If everyone just keeps forgiving, then the sinners can continue to hurt innocent people. I have often asked myself...What Would Jesus Do? If He felt the offenders did not know what they were doing was wrong, He would ask His Father to forgive them for they knew not what they were doing. If He knew they were repeat offenders who had no intention of stopping the hurting of others, He would pick up a whip and drive them out of the church.
Anonymous said…
You forgive them 70*7 times, but I think that it implies that they have asked for forgiveness and are truely sorry for what they have done. I do not believe forgiveness can be given if it has not been asked for. I think it is often hard to give even if it is asked for because we are not like God so we can not really see the heart of the person asking for forgiveness.

God will not forgive us of our sins if we have not asked him to do so with a truely repentative heart. He has given us his Son and the ability to be forgiven but we have to ask to be forgiven.
Anonymous said…
As a fellow, but much less known preacher than you, I greatly appreciate your blog. This post has really made me do some deep thinking. I too was very deeply hurt by church members. Since none of them seem to realize what they had done, I personally confronted them to let them know how much harm they had done towards me. Not one of them acknowledged their wrong doings. But none of them were willing to say they were sorry for their words and actions. I have felt for many years several apologies asking for my forgiveness would come my way. Like several of your previous commenters, it is extremely hard to forgive when forgiveness has not been asked for.
Struggling Preacher

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