(Hugging it out…)
The concept of forgiveness can be a hard thing to digest. If someone wronged us, granting forgiveness can feel almost as if we’ve been hit twice. The first time when we were so generously issued the wrong-doing; the second when we struggled to set-aside our ill-feelings and extended the gift of forgiveness. After all, he/she may have deserved anything but a gift.
Our minds cannot grasp some acts deserving forgiveness. Can you think of something that has been or would be hard to forgive? I’m sure you could—I just thought of three in about five seconds flat. Forgiveness doesn’t always appear justifiable. Why should we let our perpetrator off the hook? Withholding forgiveness can deceivingly present itself as our last hope to even the stakes. However, is keeping the culprit on that hook really enforcing justice … or do we feel the weight ten-fold from supporting the hook itself?
“Forgiving those who hurt us is the key to personal peace.”
~ G. Weatherly
This residual weight strapped to our shoulders is not only a nuisance, but can be draining, tormenting, and even suffocating. To choose to carry this pain can feel as if the incident is recurring with each passing day. Neither party wins.
My Glimpse in the Mirror
I’ve recently asked myself, “Where would I be if I was never granted forgiveness for my own transgressions?” Sadly, the answer wasn’t pretty. We all appreciate forgiveness for our mistakes. God forgives us over and over again every single day. Upon acknowledgement of our blunder and a sincere request for forgiveness, His mercy awaits. So wouldn’t it be hypocritical not to reciprocate this generosity to others?
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
We are left with a choice: do we forgive, or do we carry the weight? It’s not an easy decision. Given we make the decision to forgive, our next step(s) toward allowing that act to transpire can be even harder. Here’s where prayer comes in, asking God to locate the strength and perspective within us to not only want to forgive but also follow through with that desire, surrendering to His wisdom when our need for justice yanks us backward. We give our Father our torment and baggage and embrace the metamorphous of our heart. We do this each and every day, over and over again until we are able to welcome this road as if no other choice had ever been appealing. We simply can’t do it alone.
But How Often Should We Have to Forgive?
Ever feel like your forgiveness is constant? Why do we continue to hand out forgiveness—shouldn’t we reach a threshold at some point? We don’t have a limited bank of forgiveness to grant. God emulates for us limitless love, grace and mercy. He doesn’t issue this sparingly. Forgiveness is a choice, not a well that will run dry. The option will always be available. So what stops us from giving it? Only ourselves.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?‘ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’”
Matthew 18: 21-22
Wow. Seventy-seven times. Does your mind present this as, “seventy-seven opportunities for another to take advantage of me”? Or instead, “seventy-seven opportunities for personal peace”? The choice is yours.
Always wishing you peace,
Alicia M. Smith