If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This will be one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever written. Forgiveness. It goes against the very framework of who we are as human beings. It seems like a term that could never possibly be comprehended or executed. I heard once that at the root of the word in the Greek, it means to “act as though it never happened”. Why does it seem like God always sets the bar so high, that it’s completely impossible to achieve His standard?
Everytime I thought about forgiving the man that had wronged me so horribly, it was like a bitter taste in my mouth. It made me sick. How could God expect me to forgive him? Even if I decided to put on a super-spiritual mask and make some emotional decision at a church alter, I knew it wouldn’t be real. It would be just that…a quick, emotional, fickle decision. I’m not one to make a half-hearted decision. It’s just not in my DNA.
I knew what Jesus taught about forgiveness. I knew that as a Christian I was supposed to forgive. And not only to forgive, but to forgive over and over again. I mean, Jesus forgave me, and my sin killed him, right? It wasn’t just that I knew I was supposed to forgive – I wanted to forgive! But, God couldn’t POSSIBLY ask that of me. Not after everything I endured. Couldn’t He give me the one right – to just be ANGRY!? To say I literally battled and toiled over this would be the greatest understatement ever declared. It was my cross to bear.
I had not only been wronged, but I felt as though I had been wronged worse than anyone.had.ever.been.wronged.before.since.HISTORY.BEGAN. The lies. The deception. The hurt. The misery. No, God, couldn’t expect me to forgive. I was resolute.
But, the crazy part about being a Christian. I mean, not just calling yourself by that title, but being inhabited by the very presence of God…He won’t let you stay the same. He won’t let you stay in your sin. He is never content with where you’re at. He calls you to do that which you do not think is possible. He chips away at you, until you reflect the image of the Son.
He said these things:
“Forgiveness is not an emotion. It is a choice. It is saying to yourself, “He does not owe me anything anymore.”
“Forgiven people forgive. Period.”
“We must forgive – completely and continually. It’s a battle. We wrestle with it.”
So, I took the first step and simply just started praying. When I woke up in the morning, I would look in the mirror and force the words out of my mouth: “______ doesn’t owe me anything anymore. I release Him. God, help me to forgive him. I give you my anger.”
And then, a few days ago, I did the unthinkable. I sent a letter to that man. The man I had cried a thousand tears over. The man that I begged God to judge. The man I wanted to hurt because he hurt me. I sent him a letter telling him that I forgave him. It didn’t diminish the hurt I had endured. But, I penned the words in a spirit of forgiveness, rather than hate. I didn’t know if he would receive it. But it didn’t matter.
And something funny happened – a peace flooded my soul. “I forgive you.” Probably, the hardest words in the English language to form on the lips and articulate. It goes against everything we are. However, I know without a doubt, they are the most freeing words ever spoken. I have never felt more free.
And more shocking – I actually realized my faults. What I had done wrong. What I could have done better. And I said three more powerful words: “I am sorry.”
Wow. I feel like shouting and telling the whole world. This is what my faith about. It’s about doing things that arn’t normal. That arn’t even possible with HIS help. It took me nearly 8 months, because I’m not perfect. But, I’m able to forgive now. I’m human. I will probably still battle anger for just a bit. But forgiveness is so much more powerful than hate.
I will still hurt. I will still occassionally grieve over the pain and the loss; what should have been. But yet, isn’t that what God feels every time His eyes drop to this earth and He gazes at His precious children? We are so incredibly talented at screwing up what He meant for good. From the very beginning of the world, starting with Adam and Eve. How many times does God think back to that day and simply sigh over WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN?! Yet, even when all was lost, He still had a plan. He was anxiously awaiting the moment His Son would be sent to rescue humanity.
I’m learning so much about the heart of my Father. So much about what a failure I am and not just because I’m divorced, but because I’m a sinner. But how He still works. I serve a great, great God.
“It’s a spiritual impossibilty for a follower of Jesus to knowingly hang on to bitterness, anger and unforgivness in his or her life. Jesus will not let you be comfortable living in anger and bitterness towards another.” @perrynoble