If you would’ve looked at my life over the last ten years or so, you would have said that “forgiveness” was one of the major areas in my life that I needed to work on. No need to go into specifics, but let’s just say I had many moments of hurt (as we all do). Many of those hurts I held on to and a few I let go. The one’s I held on to turned into some serious forgiveness issues and it impacted many areas of my life. I needed to deal with it but I also knew it would require some work – and trust me, I didn’t want to do it but I knew it needed to be done. I also knew that I wasn’t quite sure how.
Do you know what the Lord did? First, he gave me yet another major offense that I needed to work through – a little fresh meat so to speak. Then he taught me forgiveness in the strangest way ever – he had me write about it. I started writing a story about a girl who had some things happen in her life that required her to forgive. Her issues weren’t necessarily similar to mine, but I was able to walk through the entire process through the eyes and the “spirit”of someone else. It was fascinating. Somehow, that story became a book. Then, I wrote a second book about the same characters and found myself writing about forgiveness again, although for a different type of “offense”. Again, learned the process through my character.
I can honestly say that for almost a full year, I studied forgiveness, wrote about forgiveness, pondered the topic of forgiveness and tried to live it out in my life. Here’s the interesting thing though, I’m as interested in what forgiveness is as much as what it isn’t.
Why? Because for so many years I had people telling me that if you’ve truly forgiven, you should be able to reconnect with the person(s) that hurt you. I battled with myself about it for years. I felt guilty, I felt like a failure and I feared that although I believed I forgave people, maybe I’d been wrong. Maybe I never really had.
So, I went back to the basics and looked up the word.
Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment
as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and ceasing to demand punishment
. (That was completely copied off of Wikipedia so I’m not sure if the links will work or not).
Have you noticed what the definition doesn’t include? It doesn’t say you have to go back to how things were. It doesn’t say you must remain friends or close to the person who committed the offense. It doesn’t say you aren’t allowed to still hurt when you’re reminded of the offense and it doesn’t say that you have to explain your decisions to anyone else. All it says is that you will stop harboring resentment and anger and that you won’t spend your time hoping for some type of punishment to rain down from the heavens.
God knows we’re human. He knows we’re weak and although he asks a lot from us, he doesn’t ask the impossible. He doesn’t necessarily say we have to forget – otherwise he wouldn’t have given us a memory. He just says we need to forgive.
Sometimes we’ll reconnect with people and sometimes we’ll cut ties. Either way, as long as we’ve forgiven – we’ve done all that God asks us to do.
I’d be a total loser if I didn’t point out that the Lord isn’t asking anything of us that he hasn’t already done – time and time again. He’s quick to forgive . . . and forget.
There are losses in my life through offense that still hurt – 20 years later, 10 years later, 5 years, 1 year . . . we’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been wronged. AND – we’ve all hurt and we’ve all wronged. We’ve been on both sides of the coin – we’ve needed to forgive and we’ve needed to be forgiven.
The major lesson I’ve learned is: Forgiveness is a gift for us from the Lord. It’s a gift he gives us and it’s a gift we give ourselves. When we chose, as painful as it is, to forgive someone else – we free ourselves. We free ourselves from thinking about them, from dwelling on the offense and we free ourselves from any hold they had on our lives.
As a person whose finally dropped some chains of forgiveness – chains that have been attached to certain people, I feel a lot less pressure and weight on my shoulders and on my spirit. I wish those people well and I move on – and it feels good to have done so.
That’s it for my posts on the dreaded “F” word – unless of course the Lord prompts me to write something else. My prayer for you is that the Lord will reveal those places in your life that a little (or a lot) of work might need to be done. Where a gift needs to be given — or received.
I hope you’ll be willing to drop the chains and free yourself.