I often wonder if the reason we don’t forgive as we should is because we don’t understand the subject well enough.
Previously, I posted 7 Things that Forgiveness is NOT. It seems appropriate to also post 7 things that forgiveness IS. I should warn someone. The previous post was easier to write – and probably read – than this one. Especially if you are the one having to offer forgiveness.
But as difficult as forgivesness may be to extend, it is often a most important ingredient in healthy relationships and in being a completely healthy person.
Here’s to a better understanding of forgiveness.
Here are 7 things that forgiveness IS:
Granted – it’s a very difficult choice. Forgiveness is never easy. And the deeper and more frequent the wounds were the harder the choice is to make. In fact, holding on to pain is an easier choice. But forgiveness is a conscious decision made by the injured party. You simply – and, of course, not so simply – choose to release the injury and forgive.
Letting go of a right to get even
This is a hard one. You give up the right for revenge when you forgive someone. In the truest sense, it’s a clean slate approach to forgive. In fact, God actually encourages us to hand revenge over to Him – letting things happen in His time which make things right. “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”” (Romans 12:19 MSG)
Forgiveness is like saying, “It hurt. I didn’t like it, but I’m moving forward with my life in spite of the pain.” Imagine running the a road race with a sack of potatoes hanging from your neck. Until forgiveness is granted there is a proverbial weight around your neck. Often the weight is more on you than on the person who did whatever has to be forgiven. The author of Hebrew illustrates that for us also, “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,” (Hebrews 12:1, emphasis mine)
Dropping resentment and grudge
Forgiveness releases the angst towards the person who did the injury. One definition of forgiveness – knowing you really have forgiven someone – is what happens when the person comes to your mind again. If the pain they caused is still the first thought you have about them – you may not have really forgiven them yet. (Now might be a good time to go back and read the first post of what forgiveness is NOT.)
A step towards healing
Again, forgiveness releases a weight from the injured, which opens the door for emotions to eventually heal. And it does take time. It’s not an overnight thing, but when true forgiveness occurs most people feel a huge weight released from them immediately and then emotions begin to heal and trust rebuilds over time.
An opportunity to display grace
There is no greater picture of God’s forgiveness to others than for us to forgive one another. It’s literally being the example of Christ. Paul wrote in Colossians, “bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.” (Colossians 3:13)
The removal of a roadblock
Forgiveness removes the barrier between us and living at peace again with ourselves, others, and God. “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)
I know these are difficult. I know some of the pain runs deep. I can’t describe it for you adequately, but I can tell you forgiveness IS all it’s claims to be.
As a small story of my personal journey, the hardest person for me to forgive was my dad. He was absentee most of my childhood and I resented it greatly. I didn’t understand why I had to forgive him when he did wrong against an innocent child. One day – and over time – God convicted me. In one moment I chose to forgive him. And, yes, it was a conscious choice I made to release the pain I held against him. I cannot describe the freedom which came to me when I did. It wasn’t really about him at that point – it was about me. (But, that moment changed our relationship and the way I saw my dad from that point forward. I wish he were still alive today to enjoy time together.)
If you truly want to be free of the hold the injury has on your heart, forgive the one who injured you.
(As I stated in the previous post. This is not a new post. This is one of my most frequented subjects, so there have been others who have used portions of this post and the other one in blog posts and books (some even with permission). If you see others who have posted it prior to me remember I first wrote this a decade ago. I bring it forward because it is such a relevant issue.)