Freely Forgive: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
This is a tough one for sure. Trust me, I’m not pretending this is easy. But so often our hurt hearts turn into bitter, resentful hearts. When we’ve been wronged our anger feels so justified- and often it is. But the question we must ask ourselves is, “How long am I willing to live and operate out of this emotion?” As we consider that answer, let me offer a few points of consideration to address the common barriers of forgiveness.
1) Forgiving someone is not equivalent to saying the wrong actions were permissible. We are never to call sin “good” or “okay.” Because it’s not. But what we can do is acknowledge the pain and injury it caused. We can even verbalize this to the person who hurt us. And then we can say, “I forgive you and will not hold this against you.”
2) Forgiving someone is not always equivalent to the restoration of trust. I’m thinking of extreme examples on this one, but as a therapist of 14 years I thought it was important to mention. In our day to day lives, most often we will be able to rebuild trust (or set boundaries as needed- more on that one later), but there are some instances when trust is not safe or healthy. For example, if someone has abused you in a physical, emotional, or sexual way, forgiveness is absolutely essential to your healing process. However, that does not mean it is wise to place yourself in a situation where that abuse could happen again.
3) We must remember that we are forgiven by God. Sometimes we struggle to forgive others because we think the hurt is too big to forgive- that is doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. Which is precisely the point of forgiveness! It is undeserved. When I consider how unworthy I am of the forgiveness of the God of the universe I can’t help but think, “Who am I then to withhold my forgiveness?” I did nothing to earn Jesus dying in my place. It was a free gift of love. Remember, God in Christ forgives you. Lean on this truth as you seek to forgive those who have wronged you. And remember, we don’t have to do this in our own strength…in fact, we can’t! Pray for the Spirit to grant you peace as you forgive; and as you forgive, you will be filled with more peace.