No, the headline is not the result of my cat scampering across my laptop. Nor is it the result of banging my forehead on the keyboard in an attempt to cure six-months-worth of writer’s block. The headline is a compound word in the language of the Eskimo. It’s a tongue-twisting, tooth-chipping word which I have not even attempted to pronounce. But when I came across it–and its meaning–in a textbook, I had to share it with you.
The word holds significant importance to Alaskan and Canadian natives, and was first written down by Moravian missionaries who were searching for a word which would translate the meaning of forgiveness into the native local Eskimo language. It means, “not being able to think about it or remember it any more.”
Issumagijoujungnianermik is not a commonly used word. Its use imparts a special kind of forgiveness on the part of the speaker to the recipient. When this word is used, the offender is forgiven to the point in which the offended will never again bring up the offense.
Often, when someone offends us, we dwell on it. Every time the “jerk” steps into our line of sight, our brain pops in the DVD of “the incident,” providing instant memory. If we dwell on that memory, thinking becomes cloudy and our attitudes and actions are affected. We don’t let it go–we replay the DVD and what we should have gotten over becomes a lasting struggle with a grudge, anger, bitterness… Sometimes we actually remind the person that we’re still mad at them! Ah, there’s nothing more satisfying to a bitter person than having that grenade to throw–bringing up that offense–every time there is an argument.
But what if we choose to do something difficult? The hardest thing to do would be to provide Issumagijoujungnianermik. This gracious forgiveness which means “I forgive you and I will never, ever bring it up again in an argument, I won’t let it cloud my thinking…” and effectively ejects that DVD from the heart and breaks it into pieces.
It isn’t easy. Believe me, I know. But I also know how resentment and bitterness–the result of unforgiveness–can eat away at one’s heart. I’ll bet you can recall a time when someone did something really rotten to you or someone you love and you found it very difficult to forgive. Maybe it took a long time. Years. Maybe you still haven’t quite let go of it yet.
Regardless of the circumstances, you must remember this: If Christ was able to forgive you, how can you do any less than forgive others?
The Apostle Paul helped us out a bit when he said to the church at Ephesus, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, NIV). Christ’s law of forgiveness is given to us in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter six, verse 14: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Okay, cool. This is one of those “If–Then” statements. If I forgive others, then God forgives me. But we can’t stop there. What does the next verse say? “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (v.15).
Ouch! There’s an If–Then that isn’t so easy to live up to, is it? Not only that, it’s kind of ominous–if I don’t forgive others, Christ won’t forgive me. My very attitude toward others can either limit God’s forgiving grace or allow Him to shower me with the blessings of peace and joy.
My NIV Life Application Study Bible gives a note for these two verses in Matthew. It says that Jesus gives a startling warning about forgiveness. If we refuse to forgive others, then God will refuse to forgive us.
Because when we don’t forgive others we are denying our common ground as sinners, all in need of God’s forgiveness.
God’s forgiveness of our sin is not the direct result of our forgiving of others. Rather it is based on our realization of what forgiveness truly means. Sure, it’s easy to ask God for forgiveness. But granting forgiveness to others–especially when they don’t ask for it–is quite another thing!
Psalm 103:12 tells us that when we ask for God’s forgiveness, He takes our sin and disposes of it as far as the east is from the west. Now that’s what I call Issumagijoujungnianermik. East and west can never meet…ever!
When our sins are forgiven, God removes them from us at a distance so great that not even He remembers the sin. Therefore, we have a tabula rasa and we can start over as if we had never sinned in the first place! That is the ultimate “forgive and forget.”
Since we are given God’s amazing gift of forgiveness–Issumagijoujungnianermik-style–why is it we find such difficulty in passing it on to others? If we are to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 19:2), then it stands to reason that we should follow His example of “forgive and forget.”
When we forgive someone, we must also let go of the offense. No more dredging up the past, no more wallowing in self-pity over what “that jerk” did to us. In a word (a large, compound word) we need Issumagijoujungnianermik–to not think about it anymore.
My concordance lists 93 references for forgiveness in the Bible, many of which center upon the nation of Israel. God forgave Israel over and over for their inability to keep the faith with Him. Likewise, He forgives us over and over when we wander away, returning to Him when we recognize our sin.
Christ even forgave those who nailed him to the cross. His death there paved the way of forgiveness to every sinner who repents and asks Him for forgiveness. How can we do any less than forgive others?
A popular Christian song asks, “Jesus, can you tell me just how far the east is from the west?” The answer comes later on in the music.
In my mind’s eye I see Christ holding our sin in His hands. As we ask for His forgiveness, those sins slip through the scarred wounds left by the nails. The wind scatters them as they fall into an abyss, remembered no more.
How far is the east from the west? The song answers, “One scarred hand to the other.”