We all know that forgiveness is something that we are supposed to show in our everyday lives. Yet, sometimes we forget just how deep, how personal, how hard forgiveness is. Although practical, it hurts. For an illustration, imagine being struck hit an arrow. Not forgiving someone is like leaving the arrow in, to fester, to infect, and to take over.
You see, forgiveness is not ONLY for the other person who has wronged you, but it is for YOURSELF. For the longest time I did not understand this. I was someone who would "forgive" but before the wounds healed, I would itch the surface and open old wounds back up again. I would rush to forgiveness, and then turn back into my bitter, mean-spirited ways, ignoring what true forgiveness really means. You see, forgiveness is not just a saying, it is not just a one time action, it is a virtue; a special skill that takes time.
Sometimes, forgiveness may not come immediately. I recently had a family issue that was embarrassing to myself, my mother and father, my cousins, etc. This situation happened at a family get-together, and turned innocent fun into a family feud, one that still has not been completely resolved. Needless to say, EVERYONE was hurt, and no-one can quite agree on what the best way to address the situation is. Everyone has an opinion about what happened, and everyone has an excuse for the one who was in the wrong.
Managing this drama has been stressful, emotional, and even worse, hard on family relationships. HOWEVER, I have learned a lot about forgiveness and I have forgiven the one who was in the wrong, and caused the situation to go out of hand.
So, what have I learned throughout the process? I think I can sum it up in 3 simple lessons.
Forgiveness does not have to happened immediately. If forgiveness is given too early, it is not genuine. First of all, I will not apologize for something I did not do or forgive immediately just to make the situation okay. But, more crucially, I MUST take time to search my heart, empathize, pray for healing, and pray for healing for our "enemy' or person who hurt us. When we try to understand the person who hurt us, we just might understand why they hurt us, and have genuine forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an everyday process. Although I have forgiven this person who wronged me and my family, I still have to continue to keep my flesh in line with my heart. Somedays I am just plain angry, and that is okay. Other days I feel sad. That is OKAY TOO. Sometimes part of forgiveness is the grieving process. Allow yourself to feel the emotions (which God has gifted you) to be able to make a full healing and recovery. Just remember to keep progress moving forward; Do not dwell on the past or things that could have changed. Address the situation for what it is, process it, and move forward in your life from potential self-inflicted sadness, stress, or hostility
Forgive does not necessarily mean to forget. Lets face it, this is a part of forgiveness that is taken too far. Yes, minor trespasses can be forgiven and forgotten, but major trespasses should be forgiven, but not be forgotten. We should not necessarily taken inventory of someones sins, but we should hold them accountable until there is valid change in their lives. We may be able to forgive a cheating wife or husband, a lying thief, or a murderer of someone we love, but that does not mean that that person does not deserve the consequences they have brought onto themselves. As Christians, we have became soft on this issue. Some people do deserve to be socially distanced from (non-covid 19 style lol), until they can prove that they are worth the emotional investment once more. Once they prove this, then we can reconcile our relationships with them once more.
Readers Note: I hope and pray that this find you in your time of need. As someone who needs forgiveness to help free myself from the bondage of hurt feelings and sin, I know just how valuable this techniques can be. ALWAYS remember to come to God in prayer during these times, and ask him for his supernatural power to consume your heart, and to allow him to give you the strength to forgive. I know it is hard, I know it hurts, but I promise you it is worth it.