I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness recently. You know, that ever-illusive bird-singing, sun-shining, cloud-parting moment when all your hurt melts away. No? No! Well, at least not for me. And at the very least, we should be honest with each other, because otherwise we simply perpetuate the idea that Christians are somehow supposed to maintain perfection. I certainly don’t. My Christian walk is an ongoing process of failures, lessons, and growth.
In the past I’ve viewed forgiveness as a requirement placed on me when someone asks for it. Boy, did I have that wrong. It’s not about a ritualistic exchange of words, because let’s face it, not everyone in need of forgiveness asks for it. It’s about giving forgiveness even when it’s not requested, even when it’s undeserved. It’s about grace.
When I’ve been hurt, there’s this part of me that demands justice. I want acknowledgement from the person that hurt me, visible repentance through their demeanor and actions, and a flat out apology with the sweet cherry on top promising never to hurt me again. #nottherealworld
What I’ve come to understand is that I have to let go of any expectation I put on the other party and turn that expectation toward myself. The truth is, no amount of lamenting, or even the most sincere apology on their part, can undo what has been done. I don’t need an apology. I don’t need them to “get it.” What I need to do is remember the undeserved, unearned, unfathomable grace that has been extended to me through Christ. If my life is dedicated to a genuine pursuit of becoming more like Christ, I need to learn more about handing out grace as easily as I hand out condemnation.
Forgiveness in turn begins to foster healing in me. It releases me from the weight of the situation or relationship. Some days I’m really good at it. Other days, I feel like I’m starting back at the beginning. There are some hurts that will cut so deep in your life, you just have to get up each day and say, “Today I’m going to commit to live in forgiveness – even if I don’t feel like it.” (That means actually being kind to that person if we should cross paths!)
Fortunately, God promises that when I sense that hurt and anger creeping in again, I can immediately go to Him in prayer and ask for my own forgiveness. It is a good reminder that I too am in need of forgiveness from time to time. Who am I to harbor malice in my heart against anyone when I expect God to look past my own failures?
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph 4:32