Well…This is a tough word for me. It’s a word I’d like to keep tucked safe and hidden behind a soft Christian Smile. It is something I have carried for quite sometime. Something I believe we all struggle with at some season in our lives. Some of us more than others and for me it’s been since I can remember. The word is tally. Tally is something I am still learning how to release because it’s an unhealthy go-to. It’s what I’ve allowed myself to live by for many years. If you have ever tallied, you’ll relate. As I have the courage to share with how I have tallied and the danger of tallying, my prayer is you too will see the need to look inward to see how you can walk free from keeping the score.
What does it mean to tally? In the noun form of the word tally, which I am sure that you are familiar with, means keeping the current score in a game. Tally can also mean a label attached to a plant that gives information about a particular plant or tree. The word tally in the verb form means to agree with, conform to, equate with. So how is tally a struggle? The tally I am referring to is unforgiveness. To tally in relationships and in life means we keep record of wrong. It’s this little pre-approved package that grants ourselves permission to walk in unforgiveness knowingly or unknowingly and therefore keep this little ticker or tally of wrong.
Tallying or keeping record of wrong, has affected multiple areas in my life. It is the habit of reaching back in the archives of the mind, reminiscing or meditating on a hurt and layering on all of the hurt or wrong done by a particular individual or set of circumstances. It’s like layered cake yet it’s not so sweet!
The tally for me started many years ago I kept record as a child. I began recording all of the major life events where my father was never a part of my life. As some of you know, growing up fatherless is heart breaking. My father was alive and well, for reasons unknown he choose not to be a part of my life. Of course we could justify and rationalize he lived in another state, however when it came to any kind of consistent communication, as a child I initiated the communication, and from him there was infrequent effort.
As a child I felt rejection from my father because of his inconsistent communication and in my mind I would record and tally how his lack of interaction made me feel. I remember many birthdays would come and go, anticipating some phone call. Hopes high, at least one call this year?… and then dashed, another tally. As I got older, it was beyond gifts or money, all I wanted was a simple phone call. What I really wanted was to hear his voice, to know that he loved me and feel accepted by my father. Was that too much to ask?
The tally would continue into my teens and eventually many years would pass, tallying, keeping record of wrong and the hurt I felt. Any mention of his name and it would bring up all kinds of anger and emotions. The sting of unforgivness toward my father was real, raw and hidden. It came out as tears at night, came out in avoiding relationships and feeling like I had to prove myself. I had a hidden anger and as young adult I knew this anger could eventually destroy me. I needed to forgive, I needed to walk this out. I needed to stop recording wrong and forgive my father for not being present and for not reaching out. I needed to stop meditating on the past through tallying wrong and focus on the beautiful future I had.
So what starts us in the tally business? Hurt or disappointment!
Often when we tally we are really stuffing a past hurt often time unknowingly. We want whoever hurt us to hurt as much as we hurt. We then go to stuffing our hurt. We pack away the hurt for a rainy day, always available to pull out to ponder, to remember, to meditate on keeping the hurt alive. We stuff to protect ourselves instead of deal with the hurt. It’s like this continually sweeping under the rug. Eventually the rug becomes so bumpy there is no way we can walk safely. Let’s be real! When someone repeatedly behaves in a way that is inconsiderate and unloving instead of dealing with it we stuff the emotions and hurt feelings and begin to tally.
So what keeps us in the tally business?
We tally because we think we deserve an apology, it’s an entitlement. You’ve done me wrong, therefore I deserve an apology. It can be especially hard when there were promises thrown. You want to see changed behavior and want to hear, I’m sorry! The tally ticks. I’ve heard folks say they wouldn’t forgive until they received an apology. What if that person sees no wrong or is so full of hurt themselves cannot admit wrong. What if that person is not alive? How will you get an apology then?
We tally to protect! We take this mental note:
- I’m hurt (check)
- I deserve an apology (check)
- I don’t like feeling hurt (check)
- I won’t be hurt again (check)
- Enter protection mode (check)
Protection mode is this hardened heart. The hardened heart that has kept score for so long, it refuses to let anyone get too close to love you or for you to love them. It’s entering a relationship or friendship with preconceived idea you could be hurt again and so I won’t get too close! Protection mode keeps you from being your true authentic self. The hurt from a rejection is so painful you are full of fear to share who you really are with the world.
Through the stuffing, entitlement, and protection,what’s really happening to us in this unforgiveness? We think we are in the right, justifying our unforgiveness. However we are wrong. Unforgiveness has this way of sneaking into how we see others, how we communicate, how we see life. Bottom line; it’s sin! It will catch up to you like it had caught up with me; I was holding myself captive in unforgiveness.
My tally of unforgiveness was based on feeling rejected by my father. I couldn’t explain why he didn’t take the initiative to have more involvement in my life. I tallied through life stuffing my hurt, expecting an apology and living trying to protect myself from being hurt again. It was not until recently I realized I stuffed, I walked in entitlement and protection, hindering me from great things God had planned for my life.
And here’s the BUT….
There is HOPE! You. Can. Forgive. You can STOP keeping score and keep no record of wrong done to you. Is it a process, yes, I’m walking it out and there is a healing and restoration waiting for you. The peace I have through placing my hope and faith in God has no comparison to the tally. Releasing the tally requires faith in God and His command to forgive:
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgiven you.
So what’s in it for you? What will stopping the tally bring you? PEACE, JOY, LOVE!
When you stop keeping record of wrong, when you stop layering on hurt followed by hurt there is a supernatural, indescribable peace that stills your soul. You are walking by faith in God to forgive. It takes faith in God to forgive. Your tears of pain and resentment turn into tears of joy because you are reminded you are forgiven. You are loved.
Forgiveness releases the other person involved, however forgiveness releases you! It frees you up to embrace love again. It opens possibility, it’s this weight lifted off. You cannot change the past, what’s done is done, however you change the future and it’s beautiful. When you stop the tally, you walk by faith and declare you will not be held back by hurt and know that the event does not define your future. Again, what’s in it for me? Freedom! A peace, a chance to love again!
Let’s talk about forgetting…
Forgive and forget. Do you forget? I think that’s up to you. I know many Christians will disagree however I can’t find where you have to forget in the Bible. HOWEVER…Let me ask you this, Do you like how you feel when you remember the hurt and pain? Does meditating on hurt stir up feeling of hope and victory? No. So why wouldn’t you being the process of forgetting or at the very least get to a place of if the subject is brought up you can look at it and remain in peace? You may not forget the event(s), I do believe the hurt, the pain, the anger toward the event begins to dissolve. The sting is not so strong and I think that when you realize you are walking out forgiveness!
Are we winning when we keep track of wrong done to us? Are we really winning when we tally and celebrate defeat? NO! Tallying or meditating on past hurts stirs up pain and keeps us steadfast in unforgiveness. Tallying keeps us in a lie that grants us permission to remain in entitlement, stuff the hurt and an unhealthy protection keeping us from who we really are. Stopping the tally or forgiveness takes faith. It requires a letting go and letting God restore you back to love, peace and joy. Look inward, do you tally?