Our world is filled with hurting people. We’re among them because of some offense that has touched us. I was standing on a corner in an over-populated city the other day, just people-watching, and noticed how so many looked like they were carrying something heavy inside. I checked my reflection in the coffee shop window just in case they were people-watching, too. Sad reality check.
All of us have been exposed to some hurt or offense by another and unfortunately, we’ve been guilty of the same. So, it’s fair to say we either need to be forgiven or we need to be forgiving. And you may have noticed, humans are not natural forgivers.
My mom (dear as she was) used the familiar phrase, “I can forgive, but I can’t forget” . . . but over time tainted with hurtful happenings, I’ve learned a better way to deal – we have to forgive because we can’t forget.
I’m sure you’ve listened to the annoying someone who rehearses a grudge so often that they have the grievance memorized- and by the time you walk away, so do you. Yes, there are some things that seem impossible to let go. Forgiveness isn’t easy. We can’t just click delete after a piece of our life has been stolen by a dark offense. But, neither can we get stuck in the violations that have been downloaded into our heart. So what’s the answer?
It’s different for all of us. For some, it may be as insignificant as not getting a party invitation but for others whose story involves a friend’s betrayal, a spouse’s infidelity, a child turning away, or some form of abuse, it seems like a high cost to just forgive … and forget about it.
But the command to forgive is the same.
Therefore, I don’t know how to do this without giving it over to God. My only answer. There was a time when it was easier for me to build high walls around the numb places where I didn’t have to forgive and didn’t care if I was forgiven. But finding grace and purpose in the painful experiences taught me something I just didn’t get before. . . radically get. I know you’re rolling your eyes right now, but honestly, it didn’t happen overnight.
Unforgiveness is like fertilizing thorns to grow and keep us entangled in someone else’s mess.
The bigger problem, aside from the bitter prison that shuts us in when we don’t forgive, is the hindrance to our prayers. It creates a block between us and the One who calls us to forgive. Maybe you don’t realize if you have or haven’t forgiven – check it out. If not, we face the decision of allowing others to affect the course of our lives by holding onto wishes that went south that manifested into grudges. Forgiveness is just another word for freedom. Nothing left to lose.
No matter how large, how long ago or how recent the offense – in this moment we can begin the step to freedom and entitle our war story . . .
Forgiveness says to the offender – “I’m beyond your reach.”
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:13
Consider my affliction and my trouble and forgive all my sins. Psalm 25:18