A story of self-harm and forgiveness

I confess. It was me. 
I don’t know how things got to this point. 
When did I stray from the path?

I know I did wrong, but do you know the whole story?

They lied about me; they harmed my family and me. What else could I do?

As hatred and bitterness settled in my heart, a hunger for vengeance grew. I woke up early to consider the demise of my enemy. I stayed up late, begging God to punish them. I wanted them to pay for what they had done. All the while, a cancer was growing inside of me. I was becoming the very person they accused me of being. A Spirit of Murder gripped my heart, as I surrendered to self-righteous judgment.

I know it is wrong, but it feels good to be angry now. I convince myself that this is righteous anger, but deep down I know the opposite to be true.

This is vengeance!

Then this morning, I woke up in a strange place. A dark place. I don’t know how I got here, but there is blood on my hands. The blood of my enemies, I presume. It is what my heart has been longing for, but now I’m not so sure.

I look around, searching for a body, evidence of my crime. Yet none can be found. As the fog clears from my mind, I realize that I am injured.

Wait! This isn’t what I thought. This is my blood!

I inspect myself and find large painful boils and festering wounds from head to toe. From the pain I am experiencing, it seems that this infection is devouring me from the inside as well. Something is terribly wrong.

I killed my neighbor in my heart because of my bitterness, but as bitterness led to hatred, I also murdered everything good thing within me. The Teacher gave me these good things. They were a special gift from an important man. Now, I have spoiled them completely.

Long ago, my Teacher warned me that if I let anger reside in my heart, I would be subject to judgment and even guilty of murder. I never thought it would go this far. Is that what is happening to me now?

My heart is beating so fast; my breathing is labored. I feel life slipping away. In desperation, I cry out to God.

“Please, God, cure my infection and spare my life. You are the Teacher that warned me about this terrible sickness. Will you now have mercy on me and heal me from this spiritual cancer and self-imposed infection.”

His presence surrounds me. I hear his words of love and mercy, “Child, why have you done this to yourself? I warned you to stay away from bitterness and anger.”

I plead with the Teacher, “Please help me! Heal me of these wounds; I don’t want to be consumed by this.”

“Forgive,” he responded.

“But, do you know what they did, Lord? They don’t deserve forgiveness.”

“Forgive,” he repeated.

“I don’t want to. It’s not fair.”

“Son, If you don’t forgive. You will die.” He told me.

As I considered my situation, I battled with my desire for revenge and vengeance. I realized that my anger was not hurting my enemy. It was only killing me slowly and painfully.

It’s true; I have secretly committed crimes against others and I was mercifully forgiven of those crimes. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to release this burden and forgive. I remember long ago when the Teacher said, “You will be forgiven with the same measure you have forgiven others.”

Maybe…he was right.

As I released all my anger and bitterness, I was filled with love and understanding for my tormentors. I accepted that the ones who harmed me were broken and hurting people just like me.

I saw the Teacher smile.

At that moment, I understood. He was proud because in forgiving those who didn’t deserve forgiveness, I had become more like Him. Please learn from my story; don’t harbor bitterness and anger in your hearts.

If you genuinely want to be like Jesus, you will forgive.

It is, in fact, what He is known for.

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