Let Easter shine its light
“I know I need to forgive my in-laws for the way things have gone on our farm. It is just hard to let go of the anger and resentment for the way we’ve been treated.” Her words are steady and sure. She’s been thinking of how she can let go of her ill feelings to be able to enjoy her farming future. The Bible says “Bear with each other and forgives whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”(Colossians 3:13 NIV)
Easter shows us the way to let go of hurt and enjoy the freedom of living forgiven. Jesus Christ is the ultimate sacrifice to make us right with God when we accept His death on the cross as an act of “making us right before God.” Christ rose from the dead and conquered death. He loves us unconditionally. Our acceptance of His gift of dying for our sins sets us on a new path of freedom and total forgiveness for all the wrongs we commit. Because Christ forgave us, we can forgive others.
Some farmers don’t want me to talk about Jesus. They want to try and work out things on their own without “spiritual stuff.” Unfortunately, I can’t facilitate “fake forgiveness” when there is no model that helps the family truly forgive and move on with their farm’s future.
Forgiveness is a conscious act of the will to let go of the offense. For the distressed farm woman it means not dwelling on the past hurt, but releasing the offender’s actions and saying “I choose to forgive you, and move on”. It doesn’t mean that she will totally forget the wrongdoing, but it does mean she will not dwell on it, nor let it consume her thoughts.
“Your forgiveness can be a catalyst for others to forgive themselves. You become happier and therefore a better team player [on your farm]. Your compassion improves the quality of your interactions. Demonstrating forgiveness and self-forgiveness gives others permission to make mistakes, to be relaxed and authentic rather than fearful and defensive,” says Mariah Burton Nelson, author of “The Unburdened Heart.”
How do you learn to forgive? Read your Bible, starting with John. Go to www.biblegateway.com and do a word search on the word “forgive.” You’ll find 116 verses about forgiveness! Write out those scriptures on post-it notes and stick them on your computer and bathroom mirror.
Seek the counsel of your pastor or spiritual director. Some farm families invite their minister to come to a family meeting for the express purpose of prayer and witnessing a forgiveness ritual by the family. This is a courageous act of using the meeting as the “marker” for the day when the family chooses to forgive and move on with new freedom.
What is stopping you from forgiving those on your farm team who frustrate you? The person who “let’s go” and forgives is the one with the ability to make positive choices and not be weighed down by guilt and ill feelings. Those who keep “short accounts of wrongs done” are the holders of the largest emotional bank accounts. Their sense of well-being gives them huge resilience to the bumps of farm stress we all are bound to face.
Spring holds the promise of new life and amazing birth. Forgiveness modeled after the way Jesus forgives us holds new life and energy for amazing freedom to enjoy peace.
Let today be the day you search out what the Bible really says about forgiveness. Let today be the “defining moment” of letting go of deep farm-related hurt. Let this Easter be your celebration of accepting Jesus’ deep love for you so that you can be forgiven and free.
Elaine Froese speaks to farm audiences across Canada and the U.S. Her award-winning book “Planting the Seed of Hope” addresses the need for families to celebrate throughout the year. She farms in southwestern Manitoba and coaches families to talk about tough transition issues.