This weekend, I learnt something spectacular about myself: either I am an incredibly forgiving human being or I’m a master at shelfing life’s difficult moments in the depths of my subconscious that even I can’t reach it. Or maybe my relationship with God as it is today, cushions any blows that life can deal me.
So on Friday morning, I came face to face (or shall I say eye-to-phone?) with an occurrence of one of the two acts of betrayal that I always said would be a deal breaker for me and it was even tougher because it came from someone who had been a key part of my life for the last 5+ years. The apology messages that ensued, incessantly requested my forgiveness.
You see, forgiveness is one of the most difficult acts for many people, Christian or otherwise, to indulge in. I strongly believe this is because people are not very well educated on the spiritual benefits of forgiveness. Most people think that forgiving a wrong done makes them weak and causes them to lose face to all those who might be watching. I think this also comes from a lack of understanding of what forgiveness actually means.
To most people, forgiveness is a word they have never really bothered to explore what it truly entails and I blame the erroneous teaching of “forgive and forget” which implies that forgetting the wrong done equates forgiveness. God did not input the ability to forget things, into us human beings unless in cases of amnesia which is even selective, at best.
So how did I know I had forgiven my offender (let’s call him person X)? Tough to describe but let’s just say I had a peace and a calm within me that let me know I was free from the bondage that comes with unforgiveness. Don’t get me wrong: I am hurt, I am disappointed and the mountain of trust that once existed between us is completely shattered into grains (not pieces, because pieces are even easier to put back together!). But here are some truths I have come to realise about the forgiveness phenomenon:
- It is the act of simply letting it go: This is not to be confused with condoning person X’s action or pretending the offence didn’t happen or allowing person X to take advantage of me but rather it is the act of choosing to “cancel a debt” or “not demand repayment”. Granted, it was slightly easier to forgive because person X neither lied nor showed a lack of remorse. But in the case where there’s a lack of remorse, you must still choose to let go of the anger and not fret yourself (Psalm chapter 37 verse 8) and receive peace in God instead.
- It’s not about whether person X deserves it or not: I’ve come way too far in my relationship with God to not understand this. Never mind the fact that I offend God sometimes and don’t deserve His forgiveness but still, it is ALWAYS available to me if I want it (1 John chapter 1 verse 9). How dare I not extend the grace that I have also been given? Forgiveness is such a problematic concept for most because naturally the offender is rarely ever deserving of it but you don’t do it for them – you do it to set yourself free and not let anyone have such control over you or your emotions.
- It is giving up my right to hurt them back for hurting me: God’s Word instructs me not to even bother myself with revenge (Romans chapter 12 verse 19). Plus, I have come to embrace that no one is worth me succumbing to the gratification of my flesh for (Galatians chapter 5 verses 16 to 17). I’m a beautiful daughter of the Most High King – retaliation is ratchet; I am royalty and; royalty doesn’t do ratchet!
- It is NOT necessarily the same as forgetting: Umm hellooo! Friday was just last week so no chance of that happening yet. Occasionally the whole happenstance crosses my mind and I very well shed the odd tear or two and resist the urge to send a message saying “Eff You!” (mildly put for PG purposes). Even at that, I most likely will never forget but rather, get to a point where God will help me recall it less and less. But that takes time and I need to heal first before I can even fathom the possibility of recovery or reconciliation.
- It is opening myself up to God’s wholesome healing: The more you hold on to a wrong done to you, the more you cause a wound to fester. God always wants to heal you His way and that involves letting yourself go through the ALL the motions. Right now, I’m good and just doing me. But I still have to be prepared for more phases to come and I know it’s coming because since Friday, I’m struggling to pray – like, the words aren’t coming out at all and I open my Bible but nothing sinks in; I have zero appetite and have to force myself to at least eat once a day, I want to sleep all the time etc. My “inner man” is obviously in grief but my body just hasn’t caught up yet. Just imagine how much harder this whole process would be if I don’t forgive person X.
Anyway, bottom line is, forgiveness is not something we should be holding back from giving to others. We are supposed to be aiming to be increasingly Christ like with each passing day and that should be our utmost goal. This doesn’t mean your hurt is invalid but it means you trust God enough to know that He is building you up to display greater levels of love to those around you.
Be generous with your forgiveness!