Are you struggling to forgive yourself or others? The bookkeeper keeps score and builds a case against yourself and others. Let’s banish the bookkeeper.
Underneath the kitchen bench in my childhood home was a drawer where we kept scissors, pens, paper, and the red Collins ledger book. My mother would write into it all the expenses and income for the farm.
She took some pride in being able to see how much income the farm had made and how much was spent on dog food, posts, and power.
It was especially useful when the accountant would ring with a question about a specific item. She could whip out the red book, turn to the appropriate page, and have the numbers within seconds.
I do something similar with my brain.
It’s not so much about items and dates, dollars, and cents; it’s more about emotional hurts and losses, expectations unmet and hurtful words that I store up and keep a record of.
Some of them I am consciously aware of. They go around and around in my mind until they bed themselves into my subconscious.
Now and then, they make a rude and nasty appearance indicating that they are still messing with my mind. But with much skill, I can repress them back into their little dark corner.
Do you have a bookkeeper in your brain?
What do they look like?
My bookkeeper looks like the miserly Scrooge from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
Always looking for more, miserable to the core, and never accepting the good. Bah humbug, he would grumble.
The exhaustion of the bookkeeper
It’s hard work keeping up with the demands of a bookkeeper.
That debt has to be paid, and so it’s kept it alive in your thinking. You want to reconcile the balance sheet, but you ruminate, brood, and cross-examine the offense to glean any little titbit, ever so small, out of it.
It’s so tiring. Holding it all together. You lose focus, and creativity is stifled.
The debt that’s owed grows
You add things to the debt because your mind brings reasons that with much mulling over are imagined into being the truth. Validation for your feelings becomes a quest.
Interest is added to the account. It compounds upon itself, and the debt owed to you grows.
In your thinking, the debt feels quite small. If you could put a dollar value on it would be around $160. Matthew 18:28
In truth, the total has grown to be as huge as a mountain of silver coins Matthew 18:24 ($169,870,800 – One hundred sixty-nine million eight hundred seventy thousand eight hundred dollars in today’s currency).
It undergirds everything you do and fuels your resentment, anger, anxiety, and depression.
The bookkeeper keeps you focused on the $160.
You convince yourself that it’s quite a manageable amount for others to pay and so you continue to expect payment. Resentment builds.
In reality, the feelings of injustice and hurt are beyond what anyone could ever repay because it’s a mountain of emotional silver coins.
Banish the bookkeeper
What are we to do? We want the vile feelings of injustice, hurt, and pain to go. [pullquote]Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:30[/pullquote]
We want to be able to forgive and move on, but the bookkeeper has us locked in place.
Here are seven suggestions.
- Acknowledge the presence of a bookkeeper.
Try and put a face to them. Imagine the piles of tarnished silver coins residing in your subconscious. All the hurts and pains that have been gathered together over the years.
The bookkeeper keeps gleaning and adding to the pile.
- Accept they have a role.
The bookkeeper has a role. They want to keep you safe. They help form your belief system about what is safe and what is not. ‘This person has done that so best be careful, don’t trust.’
They have navigated your life and formed ruts in your mind. But we are no longer children, and we need to reevaluate the conclusions we have made.
- Decide that they are not navigators.
They have been sitting next to you for so long. Holding you captive to a supposedly safe roadmap. All those wrongs and hurts remind you to keep turning one way. It’s like they keep you going around in circles.
Decide once and for all that bookkeeper is going in the back seat.
- Prayerfully put them in their place.
Acknowledge the bookkeeper and tell them to sit in the back seat. The hurts and losses of life will no longer be the dominant energy in your life. Ask Spirit (Holy) to take their place.
- Lay the bags of hurt at the foot of the cross.
That mountain of silver coins is too big for you to process on your own. We need someone capable of taking the burden.
An old missionary couple once told me to ‘Lay them at the foot of the cross.’
Begin taking those bags, one by one, to the man of sorrows.
Jesus can carry them all.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. Isaiah 53: 4
- Leave them there
We can so easily begin to pick those hurts back up again, but I would encourage you gently, without any self-condemnation, to place them back in the death zone.
For resurrection glory to be displayed, something has to die. Don’t try and resuscitate that which is dead.
- Decide to keep no record of wrongs.
When a hurt comes, acknowledge the pain but decide with God’s help to have ‘No record of wrongs’ 1 Corinthians 13:5.
Learn from the experience, set boundaries, but before the bookkeeper has a chance to engrave the pain on your heart, decide not to keep a record.
This is a gradual process.
That bookkeeper will want to keep on reminding you of this hurt and that pain. Learn to listen and understand what is under these protests. Then take the pain and unforgiveness to the foot of the cross and wait quietly for the resurrection.
It’s gradual and slow, and that’s ok.
Are you struggling to forgive yourself or others? The bookkeeper keeps score and builds a case against yourself and others. Let’s banish the bookkeeper to the back seat.
Quotes to consider
- Supernatural goals need supernatural resources. Larry Crabb
- We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges. T. D. Jakes
- The willingness to forgive may be a choice, but the ability to comes after gaining greater understanding. David Riddell
- Improvement of our lives begins with the renewing of our minds, which is begun in turn by challenging old beliefs and childhood conclusions. David Riddell
Questions to answer
- Why do we hold on to that which we need to let go of?
- What is your bookkeeper like?
- How can you incorporate keeping ‘no record of wrongs’ into your daily life?