DEAR DR. GRAHAM: When I got out of prison last year (after seven years for armed robbery) my family made it very clear that they didn't want anything to do with me. I didn't even get invited to my daughter's wedding. I know I've messed up my life, but why can't people be more forgiving?
DEAR F.C.: The harsh reality is that most people have a hard time forgiving someone who's hurt them deeply — and the deeper the hurt, the harder it is to forgive. This doesn't excuse your family for their unforgiving attitude — but at least it may help you understand it. Self-centered people, the Bible says, will always be “without love, unforgiving” (2 Timothy 3:3).
At the same time, you must be careful that you don't fall into the same trap, by failing to forgive them for the way they've treated you. An unforgiving spirit not only fails to solve anything, but it acts like a poison on our souls. You cannot harbor anger and bitterness in your heart without bringing great harm to yourself. The Bible warns, “See to it … that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).