She asks me about forgiveness.
I look up into her tear-filled eyes and know she isn’t looking for canned advice. She wants real help, honesty, depth.
I shift uncomfortably in my chair. This is a hard topic to talk about without sounding preachy. I want to be sensitive and I’m not sure what to say.
Glancing over at me, she asks “So what was it like for you to forgive? Why did you do it? Was it hard? And was it worth it?”
My mind scans all of the offenses I’ve forgiven. They have ranged from small–not being invited to a friend’s party. To medium- dealing with an insensitive and critical relative during a painful struggle. To huge – burying my infant son due to a doctor’s careless mistake. Or losing the marriage that I thought would last a lifetime.
I know she is referring to a specific offense that I’ve had to forgive, that I’m still in the process of forgiving, but there is a commonality to all the offenses against me. They have all hurt. Some superficially, some deeply, some permanently.
I take the questions one by one, trying to be as transparent as I can.
Why did I forgive?
I begin slowly, choosing my words carefully.
“To be honest I didn’t want to forgive. I never do. But the Bible tells us to forgive if we want to be forgiven. And forgiving those who wrong us brings glory to God. It shows the world Jesus.
“But forgiving has also helped me. When I carry around anger and bitterness over what someone has done, it eats at me, and almost controls my life. It’s almost like the bitterness follows me everywhere.
“I hate to admit it, but I take a twisted pleasure in replaying the offense, getting mad, being the victim. I’m entitled to those feelings- small consolations in the face of the injustices I’ve endured. But I know this pleasure is really poison. Poison that I am pouring into a gaping, already painful wound. That poison makes the wound fester, so I’m worse off than I was at the start. I’m in more pain, while the person who hurt me doesn’t even know, or care.
“I have found forgiveness is like a balm. It lets me heal. Keeps the wound clean. Enables me to move on.”
She looks at me. “I guess that makes sense. But it seems impossible when I look at my situation. Forgiving is too hard.” View full post »