Monday, October 5, 2015

Waiting for the Rat to Die

Now before you go all aghast on me, I am not referring to a person, or at least not any one specific person.  The title of this post refers to a quote from a book I am currently reading by John Ortberg.

The book is entitled Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them.  And isn't that just the truth?  I have said for years that every family has a nutty Aunt Sally or a Crazy Uncle Harry.  Some of us have - or have had - several, not just one or two.

When speaking to an audience about family dynamics, I have often used the saying (I do not recall the source):  Four out of five families are dysfunctional ... and the other one doesn't work very well.

 And isn't that just the truth? ( It also sounds a little like a Yogi Berra saying, doesn't it?)

So, while reading the aforementioned book, I ran across an older quote from Anne Lamott in her signature book Traveling Mercies. I had read Lamott's book many years ago, but had forgotten this pointed statement. She wrote:  "In fact, not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die."

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For many of us, forgiveness is something we crave for ourselves, but are reluctant to give to others.  But God says it works just the opposite of this.  It is only as we forgive others, that we ourselves are eligible for divine forgiveness.

"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" - that is a non-negotiable truth.  Straight from the mouth of the One who had the most to forgive, and nothing to be forgiven for, and yet offered each of us forgiveness freely. 

Some people refuse to even contemplate forgiving someone who has hurt them deeply, taking the position that:
a) they aren't sorry for what they did to me,
b) they haven't apologized,
c) they haven't asked for my forgiveness.

While a, b, and c may be true, this is still not grounds for refusing to forgive.  How many of us are drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die?

Remember the old Rolling Stones song, "sometimes you're the bug, sometimes you're windshield'?  Yes, well, sometimes I'm the rat, and sometimes I'm just waiting for the other rat to die.  You know what I mean?

Waiting for the rat to die can be dangerous.  Sometimes the rat outlives us.  C.S. Lewis said once that he had only recently forgiven someone who had been dead for thirty years! Yikes.
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Hope there is no stray bottle of rat poison (unforgiveness) in your life-cupboard today; but if you spot one, throw it out!  I beseech you, as one who has, upon occasion, partaken of the poison and lived (and been forgiven) to tell the tale.  You will be glad you did. Until next time, your fellow traveler ~ Marsha


  1. What a fantastic post! Unforgiveness doesn't hurt anyone but the one not forgiving. Have a great new week!

    1. Thank you and you have a great week, too.

  2. Our family is in that percentage (4 out of 5) and there are a lot of rats.
    Forgiveness is server regularly on the dinner menu, sometimes as hors d'oeuvres or dessert but most of the time the main course. We always come away feeling satisfied.
    (it was a hard lesson, but learned)

    1. What a fine thing to have a family that regularly serves up forgiveness. You are blessed as well as satisfied. Thank you, Christine.

  3. Rat poison: apt analogy. Yet even worse, for rat poison kills the body, but unforgiveness, the soul.

  4. What a beautiful confession forgiveness needs to be a daily event.

  5. Unforgiving eats at the soul. When I get hurt it takes me a few days to shake it off and say to myself get over it and move on.....thats my kind of forgiveness. Unfortunately there is one person who I cannot forgive entirely and that is a man who sexually abused me as a child.

    1. diane, I am so sorry that happened to you. I tried to find your email address on your blog so that I could reply to you personally about this, but could not find it. Feel free to send me your email address at

      Your wonderful outlook and adventures on your blog are a testimony to how well you
      moved on in your life. Good for you! Best regards, marsha