the importance of forgiveness

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” C.S. Lewis

I’ve written on the topic before and, while I’ll be referencing earlier posts (here and here), some of this is new; a part of the truth I’m just beginning to grasp.

Forgiveness

That one act/word has been a constant in my life this last year (and beyond, now that I think about it).

Forgiveness is not a feeling. No, it definitely is not.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean to forget. I probably won’t. What good would that be if I couldn’t use what I remember to help others walk through similar situations?

Forgiveness is not pretending you weren’t hurt. And I was. Deeply.

Forgiveness is not trusting the person again. I may or may not… Only God has the power to redeem and restore relationships, but I can’t do that on my own.

Forgiveness is not really even reconciliation, although it does play a part later…and that’s if both parties are willing to let bygones be bygones, to set those feelings of resentment aside and give it another shot.

Forgiveness is an act; a decision you make to obey God and in the process, allowing him bring healing to your heart.

Forgiveness hurts.

And no one can make you do it.

Forgiveness is a choice.

God can’t make you do it.

Again, forgiveness is a choice.

We each must individually decide to give up our perceived right to hurt the other person back. We must forgive because God has forgiven us much.

“God’s grace and forgiveness, while free to the recipient, are always costly for the given… From the earliest parts of the Bible, it was understood that God could not forgive without sacrifice. No one who is seriously wronged can ‘just forgive’ the perpetrator… But when you forgive, that means you absorb the loss and the debt. You bear it yourself. All forgiveness, then, is costly.” Timothy Keller

Forgiveness is letting it go, taking on all of the bitterness of the situation and allows God to handle the justice part in his perfect timing, even though we would probably rather see that person squirm right now.

Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight… Oh, I believe we can get there with Jesus’ help, making it more of an attitude or a lifestyle rather than an act we do every now and then.

Forgiveness takes time.

It is an act of grace that reflects God’s treatment to me. When I forgive, I release that situation, those people, to God, who will work directly on that other person, probably persistently, and in his time; his good and perfect time.

That is one thing I’ve had hammered home this last year… I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning what it means to forgive.  He’s been messing with me big time in that department.

Not only has he affirmed his love for me; he’s held my hand through the ups and downs this year has tossed my way.

These last seven years have been quite the wild ride. I’ve been learning to forgive and let go. I’m learning to forgive those who were horrible to me when I was a kid,  to forgive my dad for his shortcomings, roommates for selfish actions and words said in heated moments, a young man who rarely gave anything in return, extended family members…the list goes on. I’ve also been learning to be just a tad bit kinder to myself; to forgive myself.

Priscilla Shirer in The Resolution for Women writes that if we refuse to forgive ourselves (or allow Jesus to do the forgiving), we are saying that we he did on the cross wasn’t enough.

It was enough; more than enough. What he did on the cross, the price he paid, will always be enough.

“…We must say to ourselves something like this: ‘Well, when Jesus looked down from the cross, he didn’t think “I am giving myself to you because you are so attractive to me.” No, he was in agony, and he looked down at us – denying him, abandoning him, and betraying him – and in the greatest act of love in history, he STAYED. He said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing.” He loved us, not because we were lovely to him, but to make us lovely…” (Timothy Keller)

That is what forgiveness does.

Wen you truly forgive, the love of God flows freely into your life and through everything you do. When your decisions are not controlled by the other person’s behavior (or your resentment toward them), you have forgiven. When you’re free from the pain, anger and feelings of hatred toward that person and you find yourself experiencing God’s peace, you have truly forgiven. When you’re able to let that person go rather than allow those same feelings (the pain, anger, resentment, etc.) have a hold over you, you have forgiven.

Forgiveness has the power to redeem.

Forgiveness has the power to renew.

Forgiveness, through Christ Jesus, has the power to restore me. It has the power to restore you. And, through forgiveness, Jesus can restore relationships, but only if the other party wants a restored relationship. If they don’t, you simply have to let go and move on.

And that’s what I’m doing now.

December has been a month of realizations and I refuse to be held back by something I cannot control any longer. I can only control me and I, for one, want to live. I don’t want to spend my life waiting…. waiting… waiting… I want to live while waiting, not stand at a standstill.

Forgiveness is allowing myself to move on, but not forgetting. In forgetting, you say that it didn’t happen. It did. I’ve learned from those situations that have affected my life and I will remember, but not in a way that keeps me bound. The remembering enables me to help others who are walking through or will walk through similar situations. There is love in that.

There is freedom in that.

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