By: Darcy Mears, Children’s Ministry Coordinator
Forgiveness gives us warm fuzzies, it is a happy and welcoming word. Forgiving someone a small transgression is easy enough. Letting ourselves off the hook for human foibles is doable. We bump into each other in the hallway and say ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘excuse me’ and we do truly mean it. How quickly do we ask for forgiveness for the ugly and hurtful actions in our life? How often do we offer forgiveness to others when we are hurting inside? How often do we relive moments in our past that bring anger and tears to our eyes?
The sincere act of forgiveness can be difficult to achieve and can be even more tough to accept from others. Righteousness over how poorly we have been treated is hard to dismiss. The fact is, sometimes the past gives us a reason to explain our resentment and an excuse to hold the familiar feelings close. The other fact is, we are only hurting ourselves and our relationship with God. That other person has long since moved on from those atrocious actions and words. We are left to deal with our own hearts and heal ourselves. It begins with forgiveness. We must forgive others and ourselves to wholly move on with healing.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7
We had a horrible experience with a sick parent in our family. He was far away and his wife was in charge of his care. Over the course of one and a half years, we went through many moments of fear, anger, grief, and resentment. It felt like we were living in a nightmare. We couldn’t change what was happening and Grandpa was slowing fading away; only his wife could see him on a daily basis as all other family and friends live here, like us. I was rightfully upset at the events that had transpired and could not forgive those who were making decisions. I was also feeling very guilty for how my anger seethed inside. I felt blackness in my heart for other human beings. When the call came that the end was here and he was left alone on life support, rage reared its ugly head and camped in my soul.
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. …Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.
Until I accepted my feelings and the realization we all live with evil in our lives, I was not able to forgive myself. Until I forgave myself, I was not able to forgive others. Until I forgave others, I was not able to leave the past behind. Realizing I could forgive, and it didn’t mean I was saying it was by any means okay, was liberating; releasing my own feelings of resentment was a turning point. It required a tremendous amount of prayer and effort. Time does help heal wounds and soften the edges. Learning to embrace that God would make it right when it fit into His plan was a final moment of release for me. Forgiveness, regardless of the past, became a reality.