I’ve spent the last several days talking about how to forgive. But I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how much I teach on forgiveness, someone always stops me and says, Yes, that was great but HOW do I forgive? I’m like…that’s what I just talked about for the last three hours! What didn’t you get in all that?
What they seem to be looking for is the magic bullet that makes forgiveness easy. Maybe it’s a part of living in our “just fix it” culture; we think that there is a pill for every disease. Just take two of these and your problems will be gone for good! People are waiting for me to get through all the hard stuff and then bring out the easy fix-it-all solution.
Forgiveness is a Choice
That would be nice. But relationships are hard. We are fragile beings. Offenses hurt…sometimes deeply. There is no pill to solve your relational diseases. There are only choices. You can choose to hold onto anger, bitterness, and resentment and fantasize about ways to retaliate (this, by the way, will consume the rest of your life) or you can choose to rise above the offense and forgive your offender. From there you have another choice; either you work to restore the relationship or move on without the person.
Forgiveness Takes God
That sounds much simpler than it really is. Forgiveness is hard. It takes courage. It takes determination. And because it’s so hard I think it takes the power of God. Forgiveness is bigger than you or I, that is, true forgiveness…forgiveness that allows us to move on and even bless our offender. The best that most of us can do is a.) raise walls to protect ourselves from being hurt again or b.) cut the person out of our lives. But to be truly free and gracious involves the power of a loving God.
Choosing to forgive can be a minute by minute process. Resentment slips back in a heart beat. You must continually tell yourself “I won’t embrace that bitter thought. I choose to let go of my anger”. And you must continually ask God for help. Forgiveness is proactive. It takes energy. But in the long run it takes less energy than all the work of bitterness. And there will come a day when you are finally free.
Question: Have you been able to forgive someone who hurt you deeply? I’d love to hear about that. Leave your comment below.
- How to Forgive: Setting Four Levels of Boundaries (readingremy.com)
- Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (readingremy.com)