Brian Jones (Getting Rid of the Gorilla) says that a major reason forgiveness is so difficult for us is that we believe the process will take too long and we are unwilling or unable to invest in the process. We’d rather live with the gorilla (a heart of unforgiveness) than take on the more difficult tasks of expressing our anger in appropriate ways and accepting personal responsibility for turning our painful experiences into an opportunity for transformational growth.
Pastor Jones explains: “Living with the gorilla is the path of least resistance. It is part of our human nature; we do what we think will cause us the least amount of pain.”
But the path of least resistance is not the path of transformational growth. The path of least resistance keeps us stuck in reverse, fixated on an offense or hurt from the past. In contrast, we can choose to see our pain as redemptive and move forward toward healing and revisioned ministry. As Jeff Manion (The Land Between) reminds us, “Pain is something we willingly embrace when we believe it will serve a helpful purpose.”