When You Can’t Shake, Shake, Shake It Off

| January 13, 2015

This summer I drove 2,157 miles across the country, from California to my new home in Kentucky. Taylor Swift had just released her hit single “Shake It Off,” and for all 32 hours, every radio station in range seemed to have the song on repeat. I have nothing against Taylor, but on that trip, I was leaving behind an immensely painful situation in California, where I had been deeply hurt by some Christian brothers. Every time I heard Taylor’s song, I was reminded that some damage is permanent; it will never “shake off.”

Over the intervening months, I have been considering what it means to truly forgive when the offense can never be forgotten.

Fighting for Forgiveness

It is frustrating to try to forgive, and imagine you have succeeded, only to find the bitter thoughts continuing to resurface in your mind, day after day. Recently my mother, an excellent theologian, pointed me to Matthew 18:21-22:

Then Peter came to him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

I always…

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