What Does Forgiveness Look Like?

Your baby has been hurt by another person.  Your thoughts and opinions are constantly put down and ridiculed.  You are criticized instead of mentored and supported.  You put your all into a friendship only to be forgotten.  Humans can be pretty mean and vicious to each other.  Survival of the fittest and self-preservation take over and the next thing you know someone is lashing out at you to cover up their own insecurities.  At this point you have a choice to make, dig your heels in and fire back hurt at the person hurting you or let it go and forgive.

As Christians we like to think of ourselves as the forgivers of the land.  After all, Matthew 6:14-15 tells us “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  Is it enough to forgive the transgression?  Can you withdraw from the relationship, be it business or personal, friend or family, to prevent further transgressions?  What does this forgiveness thing entail?

If only forgiving was always easy!  With small things forgiveness usually comes quickly, but when there is a lot of physical pain or mental anguish involved it is a process that must be worked through.  Emotions run high and cloud the way.  The hurt seems to fester in you until you get to the point of feeling ill just thinking about the person or you feel your heart drop out of your chest when you think you may be forced to come face to face with this person again.  Eventually we come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth the continued pain and suffering to hold the hurt in.  We decide to work through the hurt and find our way to the point where we can forgive and shed the bitterness within.

One stumbling block for me has been that I thought in order to truly forgive you have to allow the person to be a part of your life.  I no longer believe this to be true.  While you do need to find a way to forgive, it is not necessary to continue to allow the pattern of hurt to continue.  We do not have to put ourselves on the merry-go-round of hurt again and again.  Forgiveness can be extended from a distance.  We can wish the person well, and not harbor any ill will towards them, but unless they rebuild the trust that was lost, they do not need to have a place in our present.

Some hurts never heal completely.  They can leave lasting scars on our hearts, some deeper than others.  Fortunately scarred humans struggling with forgiveness seem to be a specialty for our heavenly Father.  He will put balms of grace and love on our scarred hearts and care for our wounds.  He is waiting for us to lean on him for strength and guidance.  With God, forgiveness is a place we can get to.  He is always ready to hug his hurting children and walk with them on this path.  We just have to ask him.

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