I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few days on forgiveness, especially in the wake of news events as well as family gatherings. Forgiveness may be one of the hardest things that God calls us to do. Perhaps it’s because forgiveness doesn’t come naturally to us as human beings. The hurts and knocks we experience create a desire for us to draw blood back: Tit for tat, tooth for tooth, that kind of style. More so, as humans, sometimes we can hold grudges for decades. Anger and the hope for revenge can be a light in our soul that keeps us moving forward. But that’s not God’s hope for us, nor is that what God want’s our light to be. Central to our faith is a line from a prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others.” Forgiveness is clearly central to Jesus and to this faith, and not just God’s forgiveness for us. We are called to be a forgiving people. More so, Jesus teaches us to forgive our neighbors and to pray for our enemies. Check it out in Matthew chapter five. Did you catch that? Pray for our enemies and forgive. Anyone else struggle with that?…cause I do.
I also know Christ wants more for me, and for us.
I know that if we walk around with revenge in our heart, if we become people that dwell only on the pain, then that changes us. That narrows our life, our vision, our hopes. The person(s) who harms us gets to move on, and we get stuck in the hurt. Forgiveness then is not something that lets the other person off the hook. My guess is they have moved on. Forgiveness is letting yourself off the hook so that you can live a good and godly life without that hurt. It gets to be a stage in healing for your own sake. It’s how we become whole again.
Now am I saying you should be BFF’s with that person again? Probably not. In fact, you may even want to avoid them. But let the pain go, forgive them, let your own heart heal, so that hurt no longer gets to own you. And if there is someone that God is calling you to forgive today or a hurt that you are trying to let go, may God give you ALL the strength and grace that you need and walk by your side every step of the way. Amen