Forgiveness, I think, could be one of the sweetest actions we get to experience as human beings. With forgiveness we are able to let go of any bitterness toward someone else and, without any mental or emotional baggage, move forward with life. Getting to that point is a completely different story. A lot of times, when I’ve been hurt by someone I feel justified in my anger. (Which, as a side-note, I’ve often felt justifiable anger to be one of the stronger emotions in our toolbox.) Usually, when I feel I have the right to be angry, it puts me in the precarious position of doing or saying (mostly saying) things to hurt the other person. Isn’t it amazing when we are hurt by someone; we say the nastiest things. I like to call this condition diarrhea of the mouth.
Back to the idea of forgiveness…In the banking world there is a term called debt relief. (A very popular term this day and age!) Essentially, it is the partial or total forgiveness of debt on the part of the lender. Have you ever viewed yourself on par with a bank…as one who could dole out the “debt relief” to another party? I’ve got to admit – I’ve never looked at it in those terms. However, as one who has had to pay off debt, I can very much appreciate the position. Although I’ve never had a bank “forgive” any of my loans, I know well the feeling of being under a debt burden.
Never is forgiveness more difficult than when you’ve been truly wounded and did nothing to deserve it – blindsided. Forgiving the other person for what they did or said is difficult. Justifiable anger kicks in. Myself, I become consumed with it. Making the conscience decision to forgive the other person is the only way to be free from bitterness. Sometimes you are able to share with the other person that you’ve forgiven them. Other times, and these are the most difficult, you forgive them without their knowledge and move forward. You forgive knowing that they may experience a full and wonderful life without any realization about what they did.
I’ve noticed that, for myself, forgiveness is sometimes a daily act. As far as I know, God is the only one who can forgive and then completely forget the offense…”as far as the east is from the west.” There are moments, sometimes often and sometimes rare, where I’ve found myself forgiving someone for something from my past simply because the pain is too deep and I’m unable to forget. These are moments that are not meant for self-pity but sometimes used as a reminder to me that I’ve been hurt, have forgiven this person, and moved on.
Possibly the most humbling thought behind forgiveness…Christ has forgiven me for far worse. In all honesty, in the deepest, darkest parts of our hearts we are capable of the most heinous actions. (Jeremiah 17:9 ‘The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?’ NLT) How can we not offer forgiveness when we ourselves taste forgiveness everyday? I’ve always been blown away by the thought that Christ knew every filthy thing I would ever think or do and yet He still climbed up on that cross and He still died for me saying that “it is finished”…my debt is paid. Debt relief in full. Forgiveness.