Forgiveness. I’ve had times in my life where having me walk through a wall would have been easier than having me forgive someone. When we are offended or hurt, we can spend so much time and energy nursing the hurt that forgiveness feels like a non-option.
Forgiveness is tricky because it feels anti-justice. When we have been wronged in some way, someone else needs to pay for it. If we forgive, we seem to think that no one will pay and that makes forgiveness a hard pill to swallow because most of us have a natural pull towards justice. Add in top of that piece of our nature sayings like “forgive and forget” and the process of forgiveness becomes almost illusive. We can become indignant that forgiveness is something we will never seek because we can never forget.
Here are some things to remember as you consider forgiveness.
1. It’s a verb. Forgiveness isn’t an emotion, it isn’t something you feel. Forgiveness is a verb, it’s an action. You make a choice to forgive with your head and then it begins to effect your heart.
2. It is not a blank check. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you give the person who hurt you access to hurt you over and over again. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you become a doormat. You can, and should, hold good and healthy boundaries with people. However, the same person may hurt you in different ways or situations and in all, you will need to forgive.
3. Forgiveness doesn’t remove pain. In all instances of trauma, the only things that remove pain are time and God. You granting forgiveness doesn’t mean you stop hurting. It does mean you don’t add to the hurt by adding bitterness to your heart.
4. It’s not optional. In Colossians 3:13, Paul makes it very clear that as followers of Jesus, fully forgiven of our own transgressions, we must forgive others. You could easily say, “Well I follow Jesus, not Paul” and decide Paul doesn’t understand the pain you are in, so how could he expect you to forgive? Jesus talked about forgiveness too so take a moment to see His comments in Matt 6:14-15, 18:21-22, Luke 6:3-7 and 17:3-4.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, let’s just be honest. The consequences of not forgiving, however, only hurt you because not forgiving is the breeding ground of bitterness. Once bitterness sets in, darkness descends and you end up living in bondage to victimhood. God is able to help you forgive so ask Him. Remember it’s a choice, so you may need to make the choice several times before you feel the healing power forgiveness brings. Advocate for yourself with the person who hurt you, set tighter boundaries for a while, and still seek to forgive. You’ve been completely forgiven as a follower of Jesus, extend that same gift to all around you.