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Haunting of Hill House: Haunted by Unforgiveness

Haunting of Hill House: Haunted by Unforgiveness

Normally I tend to avoid writing about horror or scary movies,

but there is something special about The Haunting of Hill

House. Outside of the scary, it was a strong enough story to

really compel my family. My wife is an extremely early sleeper

and she made me stay up two separate nights till 3 am so she

could keep going in the story. Bravo, Netflix. Bravo.

It was a story filled with tension and a few big scares, but the

real story wasn’t about the horror. It was about family. It’s a

story of a family that was truly haunted. Yes, they dealt with

some ghosts and apparitions in their one-time summer home,

but what truly haunted the Crane family was their own

unforgiveness. I know that some of the ghosts did pursue the

family in the years that followed their initial time in the house,

but their unforgiveness is what truly wreaked havoc on them

as a family and made all the other terror possible.

Before I watched it, I saw some review articles that stated the

show was giving people anxiety issues, and some people were

even having spontaneous vomitous reactions to certain scenes.

I decided I better check for myself. What was truly scary about

this story was watching a family destroy itself because it

couldn't forgive. The family tension was much scarier than any

ghost in the story. There were copious amounts of bitterness

and unforgiveness that held control over the Cranes. Everyone

was mad at their father for the responsibility he bore with

what went down in the house. They were mad with Luke for

his drug use and his failure to make up for the pain that he had

caused the family. They looked down on Nell for not having it

all together. They looked down at Shirl for being bitter and

self-righteous. They were mad at Steven for turning their

struggle into profit. They were mad at Theo for shutting them


Yet in spite of this, through all their years of suffering, peace

and healing was always just a few steps away.

One of the most frustrating things in the story is the parents

seeing the evidence of ghosts and evil malevolent forces all

around them, but ignoring them. They explained away the

supernatural with excuses like the pipes, mold, the age of the

house, or whatever naïve explanation. When you watch this

stuff happen, you automatically want to scream at them, “It's

ghosts! Get your flippin’ kids out of the house!” Yet even

though they are surrounded by evidence of the supernatural,

they don't acknowledge it until it overtakes them.

Seeing dangerous things and ignoring them seemed to be the

Crane M.O. This is the same status the Crane children dealt

with in their own forgiveness. They saw that there were things

that made them upset, bitter, angry, and frustrated; they even

knew it was doing toxic damage to their life. Rather than

dealing with it, they responded the same way their parents did

to ghosts.

Shirl’s biggest unforgiveness was with herself, and even in that

she let it fester. Scripture teaches us that when we have an

issue, we have to deal with it. We can't let it fester.

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their

fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you,

you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take

one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be

established by the testimony of two or three

witnesses.’” - Matthew 18:15-16

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything

against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in

heaven may forgive you your sins.” - Mark 11:25

One of the reasons why unforgiveness was so prevalent in the

Crane kids is that they all saw it from their own perspective.

They were so stuck on their own pain and trauma that they

couldn't see how their shared experience impacted their

siblings and their family. Whether they were blaming mom,

dad, or Luke, all they could see is the failure and not the

family. You need to understand that empathy towards the

offender is important. Even though it can be hard seeing the

perspective of the one who offended you, empathy can lead to

forgiveness. Objectively examining the situation can help you

on the path to forgiveness.

So often we think that people are doing things to deliberately

hurt us or to spite us. We think that they are sitting back,

laughing or gloating over the damage they've done. In reality,

they probably haven't thought about what they've done to us

in days, weeks, months, or years. They may not have any clue

that they've done something wrong at all. When we learn to

see things from others perspectives, forgiveness becomes real.

We need to not only see things from their perspective, but we

need to realize that they are often as lost in the situation as we

are. None of the Crane kids fully saw the way their actions

impacted each other. Being able to see clearly can change

everything. Jesus prays this amazing prayer from the cross that

sets the tone for forgiveness

Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do

not know what they are doing....”

Think about this — the Cranes let their anger and frustration

fester for 27 years. That’s an entire lifetime. They wasted an

entire lifetime being bitter about their past and mistakes that

were made by their younger selves. Scripture tells us clearly

that there needs to be an expiration date on our drama.

Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let

the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not

give the devil a foothold.”

In the story of the Cranes, each of them had their own anchors

to how the house affected them. With Luke, he touched the

tall man's hat. For Nell, it was the bent neck lady. For Theo, it

was touching things. All their unique experiences became the

anchor or, rather, the foothold for what gave the house power

over them. However, once they were out of the house, their

unforgiveness towards each other is what continually gave the

house and their past a hold on them. For us, whenever we

don't let go of things like frustration, bitterness, and anger, it

literally gives Satan a foothold, grip, and anchor on our hearts.

It allows him to control different elements of our lives and suck

the joy out of the life we could be living.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against

you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if

you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not

forgive your sins.” - Matthew 6:14-15

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or

sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother

and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God,

whom they have not seen. And he has given us this

command: Anyone who loves God must also love their

brother and sister.” - 1 John 4:20-21

We can’t experience true forgiveness until we are willing to

give it. We can’t live a fulfilled life with unforgiveness haunting

us day in and day out. We can’t have real relationships with

people we haven’t forgiven. In all honesty, we can’t have real

relationships with anyone if we are holding unforgiveness in

our heart towards anyone. Unforgiveness bleeds over into all

the areas of our lives, and it even hinders our relationship with

God. Every day we spend with unforgiveness lingering in our

lives is a day that is wasted.

You know the feeling when you are watching Hill House or

some other frightening tale of suspense? It’s that feeling of

dread you have because the music, lighting, or set up are

foretelling that something scary is there. It’s the feeling that

something is going to jump out at you. Something is going to

attack. Some horrible experience is about to befall you. It’s a

troupe of the genre, but it is effective. It’s like the beginning of

Hill House, when you are first introduced to the Bent Neck

Lady and you know something horrible is coming, but you

don’t know what. That is what it’s like to live with

unforgiveness. You live in a constant state of knowing

something dark is lingering right in front of you, but it is

beyond your sight. It’s waiting for your own bitterness to jump

out and ruin any situation. Like the Cranes, we can choose to

deal with what’s haunting us, or ignore it.

It took Nell’s death and the family’s return to Hill House before

they could finally deal with all their issues. Nell saved them.

She gave them the truth they needed to hear.

“There's so much I want to say to you all. Forgiveness is

warm. Like a tear on a cheek. Think of that, and of me,

when you stand in the rain. I loved you completely. And

you loved me the same. That's all. The rest is confetti.”

It’s time we held on to love and let our unforgiveness fall to

the floor.

Colossians 3:13-14, “Bear with each other and forgive

one another if any of you has a grievance against

someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all

these virtues put on love, which binds them all together

in perfect unity.”



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