“Give Forgiveness A Chance”
Forgiveness is hard. Anyone who says that it isn’t either hasn’t had to do it (which is unlikely) or they haven’t been hurt badly enough to make forgiving their offender difficult. Some of us know real pain however; and thus we know the challenge of walking in forgiveness.
No matter how deep the injury, the one thing that stands in our way most often when it comes to forgiveness is that we simply don’t try. Usually, we settle in on what was done to us and we feel justified in holding on to that wrong for as long as we can. This is especially true if the offender never asks us for forgiveness, but even if they do, we still tend to cling tightly to our pain. We even use tried and true clichés like: “I’ll forgive you but I won’t forget;” which actually means, “even though I know I’m supposed to, I really don’t want to forgive.”
The fact of the matter is that you and I will never be able to walk in forgiveness unless we become convinced that it is the right thing to do and in our best interest. To be unforgiving is toxic. Allowing the wrongs done to us to fester on the inside, is to permit a slow painful death. We may not die physically, but once our emotional, mental and spiritual demise occurs, we really are no longer living anyway. Don’t let this happen to you. Give forgiveness a chance.
Here are a few things to consider when you are faced with the decision to forgive or not to forgive:
Understand the Context: It’s important to consider the context in which the injury occurred. We must understand that life comes with afflictions, bumps and bruises. Now, certainly, we should not linger in places and relationships where we are abused and devalued. Nevertheless, we can’t “break up” with everyone who hurts us. Too often we don’t realize how the circumstances with which a person was dealing at the time may have impacted how they treated us. Stress reveals a lot. None of us are our best selves when we are in high pressure, intense and stressful situations; especially for prolonged periods of time. Things like death, depression, disappointment, unemployment, change, transition, severe financial distress, and the like can make us act ugly. These things are not excuses for us to act out, nevertheless they are real pressure points. Perhaps the person who hurt you was going through a difficult period at the time. Get some perspective from someone who may not be as close to the situation. Understanding the context may make forgiveness a little easier.
You have the Capacity to forgive: Sometimes we act as if forgiveness is something that we are required to do in our own strength. The truth is that being in relationship with God, through a relationship with Jesus Christ gives us a greater capacity to forgive. Forgiveness is one of God’s core characteristics. In fact, Psalm 86:5 describes God this way: “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” Moreover, from 1 John 1:9 we learn that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness. Our relationship with Christ gives us access to a deep reservoir of forgiveness. Since each of us is a recipient of the grace and forgiveness of God, we should see ourselves as privileged anytime we get a chance to express that same forgiveness to others. We can show people so much about God when we forgive. Forgiveness is hard, but if we dig deep we will find that we have the capacity within us, namely the Holy Spirit, to do it.
Forgiveness is a Choice: To forgive or not is always a choice. This is a simple fact that we cannot get around. No matter what anyone else has done to us, we always have the power to choose how to react and respond to it. I can remember the mean, hurtful things that have been said and done to me and thereby give those things and people power to control my life. Or, I can choose to forgive and forget; to not ascribe any energy or power to the negative, wrong doings of others. Pushing pain down and out of our minds, emotions and lives will take resolve, resoluteness and vigor, and it is our choice whether we do so.
Give forgiveness a Chance: Forgiveness is possible; but only if you give it a chance. You may not be able to do it. Whatever you have experienced may be too deep-seated and painful to overcome. But then again, you just may be able to let it go. You will never know until you try.
Tell us about how you are giving forgiveness a chance. Do you have a story about the power of forgiveness? Whether you extended or received forgiveness we’d love to hear from you.