This past week has been a rough one for my health, as I just can’t shake this horrible cough. It’s been keeping me up at nights, haunting me throughout my day, and tearing up my throat something fierce. Blindly convinced that the problem lies solely within my throat, I’ve been guzzling honey and cough syrup in an attempt to get rid of it, but all to no avail. Since my cough has been the most prevalent aspect of my illness, I’ve been focused solely on correcting that part, fixated on the one part that bothered me the most. My exploration for a cause and cure has been narrow at best since the solution must be found within the symptoms of my cough, right? However, what I soon found out was that I was neglecting congestion, which through negligence then allowed for an infection to set in, which was the cause of my throat being sore, thus triggering my cough. In light of this new discovery, a little Mucenix was added and the infection and cough began to clear up. If I had just taken a minute to expand my outlook beyond the cough and find what was truly at the root of my illness, I might have tackled it sooner before the infection had set in. It wasn’t until I began to look beyond the coughing (the aspect of my illness that I was allowing to define my health) that I was able to see other aspects. I just couldn’t look beyond the cough and see the larger picture.
The same can be said about how we view some people in our lives. I have friends who have so much hatred for a particular person because of something he did years ago, that they now allow that action to define everything he currently does and is as a person. There is an old adage that suggests that when you hate someone, everything they do is offensive. Similarly, these friends can’t see beyond his past action, so now everything he does is tainted by that past choice. Because they allow everything he does to filter through his unforgiveable past, they incorrectly see these well-intentioned current actions as an offensive affront and attack. They have allowed an infection to set into their minds as they have refused to budge on their opinion of him, whereas if they could just see beyond this initial, seemingly defining aspect of him, they might see him for his current ideas, good choices, and insight. By neglecting forgiveness, they have allowed for an infected mind and a hardening of their hearts to settle in.
We become so blinded by our own ignorance when we refuse to forgive others, that everything they do is infected in our eyes. Ephesians 4.17-18 explains the dangers of blinded thinking: “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.” When we choose to not forgive for past transgressions, minor or not, we harm ourselves and our walk, hardening our hearts in the process. Then, we miss out on His blessings, and an infection of the mind takes a hold of us. If we see past that issue and forgive, we allow for His work to be done in us, but it is only through willing introspection and prayer that we can avoid a hardening of our hearts. This week, find those people in your life that you’ve defined by their one or two wrong actions from long ago. The time has come to unburden your hardened heart and allow His healing to lift the infection that you’ve allowed to settle into your mind. Amen.