Last week, I shared 2 myths about forgiveness. I hope you had the chance to read that post. The best follow-up on a post about the myths of forgiveness is an article discussing some important truths about forgiving. I have found that the idea of forgiveness can be quite confusing and frustrating at times. I have gotten so impatient with myself over forgiveness more times than I’d like to admit. However, it is through these frustrating times…or because of them…that I learned 3 truths about forgiveness.
The first truth is that forgiveness is a process. I have had to choose forgiveness many, many times for what was done to me as a little girl. In the beginning, I had to make the choice several times a day! I certainly was a prisoner of unforgiveness.
I found it incredibly frustrating that I would find myself angry and full of hate towards my offenders…again and again. Especially when I knew I had definitely made the choice to forgive them.
Because I felt angry again, I wondered if I had truly forgiven them all the previous times I had chosen to. Maybe I hadn’t sincerely forgiven them. Maybe I was still holding a grudge. Perhaps I was just fooling myself about this whole forgiveness thing. Do you know what I am talking about? Does this sound familiar? Have you ever felt that way?
Godly & Biblical Truth
I finally realized this truth about forgiveness – it is a long process and it takes time. My wounds were deep – the deeper the wound, the more time I needed in the process of forgiveness. Now I find that the anger and times I have to choose to forgive are few and far between. This did not occur over night. God needed to accomplish a lot of healing in my heart during this process. As He did His work, the feelings of forgiveness grew. My job was to keep choosing forgiveness. His job was to continue healing my broken soul so that I could feel the fruit of forgiveness.
I learned in my struggle to go easy on myself and I realized the process often takes longer than I think it should. When we fail to realize just how long the process of forgiveness truly is, we doubt our healing. We mistrust the healing work of God in our lives.
Maybe this is what Jesus meant with His response to Peter’s question about how many times should we forgive in Matthew 18. Peter is thinking maybe only 7 times. Jesus responds with 70 times we must forgive. Hopefully, no one is keeping count of how much they are forgiving their brothers and sisters in Christ. That wasn’t the point. The point is that we must choose forgiveness A LOT.
When I consider the notion of forgiveness, I remember what Jesus did for me. His act of love is the absolute best example of forgiveness there is. He has forgiven me of all of my wrongdoing through His death and resurrection.
Knowing and accepting that I don’t have to live under the shame of my past mistakes is a beautiful example of what forgiveness looks like…and feels like. This is what it is to offer grace to others through the grace and mercy that was given to me. It is this knowledge that spurs me on to be a tender-hearted forgiver of others…and myself. It is His grace that makes me desire to be a person who is full of grace.
Not everyone is in this place in their spiritual walk. Not everyone is prepared to offer this kind of Amazing Grace. And that’s ok. I am sure, like me, you have experienced times when you have offered a sincere apology and the other person uses it as an opportunity to inflict more hurt. They are not capable of offering grace. They have things going on in their lives, in their hearts, that prevent them from accessing God’s grace.
When we have a hindrance of accessing God’s grace, then His grace cannot flow through us and into the lives of those who desperately need it. And who among us does not desperately need this kind of grace?
When others fail to offer us grace for our mistakes then we turn to our Heavenly Father for our depleted supply. He will give us more than enough grace to make up for what the other person is not able to give. We take that heavenly grace and extend it to others. For if we do not receive Hos grace, then how can we offer it to others?
What a gift we have been given to share with others…Amazing Grace!
Forgiveness Brings Truth
We have to continuously bring our hurts and wounds to Jesus to take care of. Sometimes healing is instant, other times it is a long journey. Don’t rush what God is doing. Be patient with yourself. Be gentle with your heart. Our hearts are the wellspring of LIFE, we must carefully guard them. A huge part of guarding our hearts is choosing forgiveness over and over. Forgiveness of others helps to bring healing and truth into our lives.
What have some of your misconceptions been about forgiveness?
Which of the 3 truths of forgiveness mentioned above do you struggle with most? Is there anything you can add to this list?
Whom do you find it easiest to forgive? Most difficult? Why?