The topic of forgiveness is never easy-always worth exploring, however.
The reactions and emotions that come when talking about forgiveness can be anything from great joy to deep despair.
I engage in conversations every week and sometimes it seems like everyday about forgiveness.
Personally, I love the topic. Even in all it’s heartache.
Listening to someone work through the choice of either offering forgiveness or needing forgiveness is a holy work for me.
(Forgiveness conversations always lead to the the Cross of Jesus and His Resurrection- the only place we can go if we want to be empowered to offer or receive forgiveness)
Experiencing, with others, the pain, the tears, the anger and for many the peace that awaits when forgiveness is chosen has become sacred for me.
One of my dearest friends has been on this journey with a family member and when we talk about what it looks like to forgive, sometimes we generate more questions than answers.
In this blog post, I want to address a few truths about forgiveness and offer my understanding according to God’s Word and His wisdom.
This will be the first blog post that will become a series about forgiveness.
I would love to hear from you on this topic. Either via comment or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several months ago I had a lady approach me with these words, “I just want you to know that I am “working on forgiving you” and if Susie (Name changed) can do it, I can do it.”
At the moment, I received this gesture in sincerity. However, shortly after this exchange, I knew in my heart, something was “off.”
Let me explain.
-The offense this lady was working on forgiving me for was almost three years ago.
-I hadn’t had one conversation with this lady, ever. And didn’t even know she was offended at me.
With that in mind, please consider these truths about forgiveness in regards to her words to me.
The act of forgiveness is not about “working through” anything.
Don’t misunderstand, there is a working through but the working through is deciding whether or not you will choose to forgive.
Forgiveness comes the moment you choose by faith and your will to say, “I forgive him/her.”
It’s a choice. An act of your will. Made in faith.
In forgiveness, faith means that you do it without regard to the feelings associated with it.
“I will offer this person a gift they don’t deserve because I’ve also been given this same gift.”
(There are those who’ve actually experienced deep joy in making this choice. Jesus being one of them.)
Think about it.
It takes faith to believe you are forgiven.
It takes faith to believe there was a real Man who came, walked among humanity and offered His perfect/blameless life on a Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
I didn’t see it happen.
You didn’t see it happen.
But you and I chose to believe it by faith. (Being assured in our hearts that one day we will see the reality of this forgiveness that was given to us.)
So, to receive forgiveness, you and I choose to believe that we need it and that Jesus provided it.
It’s in this place, we are able to, by faith, offer the same gift of forgiveness that was given to us.
Once we choose to forgive, our emotions will vary. Understandably so!
Strong emotions after choosing to forgive does not mean we haven’t forgiven.
It doesn’t mean we are “working through” forgiving someone.
It does mean we are willing to absorb the emotions of forgiving and trust God to heal our wounded emotions.
After we make the choice to forgive, we don’t have to be shocked or disheartened about the emotions we will experience.
There will be many. And that’s okay.
But if you want to move forward in your choice to forgive, you can’t entertain the idea of “working through forgiving.”
What you can do, and let me tell you IT’S POWERFUL, in terms of being resolute in your decision to forgive is…….
REINFORCE, in your heart and mind, the decision you made in faith, by your will, to forgive.
It might sound something like this:
“I’ve chosen to forgive __________. I chose to give them the same gift that has been given to me.”
Don’t worry if your emotions don’t line up.
If you continue on this path in sincerity, your emotions will be healed.
You are not a hypocrite if you choose to do something by your will, even if your emotions are all over the place.
If you believe there is a “working through mentality” in your choice to forgive, you will most likely be working through it for the rest of your life.
Especially if the offense has been traumatic.
Nowhere in scripture does God tell us to work on forgiving someone.
And to tell others to work on forgiving someone is misguided at best and cruel at worst.
We don’t work on forgiving, we choose to forgive by faith and the power given to us by the Holy Spirit and then we trust that God will heal our emotions.
Back to the lady who approached me-
Please don’t go to someone who doesn’t know you are offended at them and tell me you are working on forgiving them.
Or that if someone else can forgive them, you can.
This lady did not need to come to me.
She needed to choose to forgive for her own sake.
Her desire to let me know that she was working on forgiving me was not for me, it was for her.
Because I had no relationship with her, it was between her and God.
With that, I love this woman. She is my sister in Christ.
I love that she had the courage to approach me.
I am not angry or mad that she didn’t understand the depths of Christ’s forgiveness.
I reached out to her for conversation if she needed it.
I’ve shared this truth with others.
It’s made a night and day difference with their emotional healing after they’ve chosen to forgive.
If you feel like you are “working one forgiving” someone and can’t overcome what feels impossible, please consider being honest about not making the choice to forgive yet.
If you haven’t made the choice to forgive, then what you are working on is whether you will forgive or not.
That’s honest and where many people find themselves.
If you have truly chosen to forgive, by an act of your will, in faith, don’t doubt your decision because of your emotions.
REINFORCE (Not yelling, just emphasizing) the decision you already made to forgive in your mind, in your heart and out loud. It really will be a night and day difference in the healing of your emotions.
Forgiveness conversations are never easy.
Sometimes we feel backed in a corner and being asked to do something that feels impossible,
or that we don’t want to do.
It’s okay to be honest about those feelings. It’s okay to work through those questions before you make your decision.
Once the decision is made, you’ve worked through the choice and now you can rest in knowing God will be faithful to heal your wounds.
Whether you’ve caused them or someone else did.
Next time I want to talk about when we should go to someone, whether we are the one who caused the offense or we’ve been offended.
There is a time, a way and a disposition that can foster healing for all involved.
I will be sharing more of my experiences with forgiveness in these posts.
If you find yourself feeling offended and you want to talk it out, please email me.
If you have no desire to do that, it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t read my posts. 🙂 Promise.
“bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” Colossians 3:13