Forgiving the Little Things
by Ben Swanson
It happens every day – someone doesn’t wait their turn at a four way stop, our boss is rude, our spouse forgets to call or doesn’t text us back, a friend stands us up, or the cat pees on our backpack (it’s getting personal now!).
Every time someone does something which offends or harms us, we face a decision. Will we hold onto the offense or will we forgive it? Will we forgive or will we foment?
Not every sin requires the process of confession and the overt giving of forgiveness. Little things don’t need protracted processes. However, little things need to be forgiven. If we don’t decide to forgive, then we’ve decided to let a small thing fracture our unity.
Broken marriages, office infighting, and family feuds most frequently come not from one episode, but from small things piling up. Dust particle sins swept under the rug become stampeding hippos.
When wronged, we can overtly and internally decide, “I am not going to hold that mistake against them.” If the decision to forgive doesn’t hold and the hurt remains, then it probably needs to be talked over and then forgiven.
If the person harming us has done the same thing before, we should point out the fault and then forgive after receiving an apology. This prevents those we love from hurting us over and over again.
When we are the one messing up, finding out what we’ve done wrong is a gift. It enables us to do better in the future.
No one enters a friendship or marriage thinking, “I want this relationship to barely survive.” We want and need good relationships, and forgiveness is one necessary ingredient.
It can be easier to forgive a stranger than the one we love most. We expect more from our spouse, child, brother, sister, and best friend. Because of this, we can become picky and even selfish in how we receive their small mistakes in communication, action, or inaction.
If we stop and think of who the other person is and briefly contemplate their intentions toward us, we can release our right to hold a grudge or get revenge.
Usually it’s the little things that most need forgiving.