Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Forgiveness: Why is it so hard?

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

"Forgiveness is not a personality trait I was blessed with," I used to say to my grandmother, as she would sigh and roll her eyes.

This is what I have thought my whole life; that somehow the ability to forgive someone stemmed from a personality trait I had never inherited. It would take me years to understand that forgiveness is much more than that. It is something that is so difficult, that you will think you've done it when you haven't.

Some things forgiveness isn't:

  1. Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  2. Forgiveness is not forgetting anger.
  3. Forgiveness is not forgetting sadness.
  4. Forgiveness is not ignoring.
  5. Forgiveness is not easy.
Things forgiveness is:
  1. Forgiveness is clarity.
  2. Forgiveness is acceptance.
  3. Forgiveness is hope.
  4. Forgiveness is love.
I think part of the reason I was so 'against' religion in my teenage years was because I couldn't imagine someone forgiving me of all the wrong I'd done. I wasn't the worst person in the world, but I wasn't a saint either. 

Something I still struggle with to this day is understanding how Christ can forgive every person who believes in him. I don't think it's a stretch for us to admit that there are horrible people in this world. Still, I am working on it, as I am forgiving others around me for what I have perceived as transgressions against me.

Mark 11:25

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

I am famous for forgetting rather than forgiving. I have no problem just moving on from something and acting like it never happened. I let whatever hurt me stew inside me until I can't stand it anymore, and then I explode. I could never understand the people who said that they could "forgive, but never forget". I'd frequently ask myself, "How can you forgive, but never forget? Forgetting is the easy part."

But that's just it. I'd stressed myself out for years trying to find the easy way out to forgiveness. There is no easy way out. It is one of the hardest things you will ever do. You have to look within you, and if you need to you ask Christ to help you - do it, and He will. He will remove that anger and that hurt from within you.

Forgiveness is not for them, it is for you. That is why I never understood the quote. That person will have to live with whatever they have done to you. The guilt will eat them up inside, but you? You have forgave. You have cleared your heart. You have truly moved on. You will be happy. 

The way that I look at forgiveness now is: Look at everything humanity has done and continues to do. The Lord forgives us all. He died so that we may be forgiven. If Christ can forgive millions of people who have done horrible things, I can look one person in the eye, and truly forgive them. 

Daniel 9:9

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him.

I've only just understood and figured out this concept, but let me tell you all, it is truly a relief - it is like a skyscraper has been lifted off my shoulders. I want you to experience that too. I want you to know what it like to be so happy, tearfully happy even. You deserve it. No matter what you have done, you deserve to know what it feels like to forgive and be forgiven.

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