When I started jotting down ideas for my next post, I told myself that I wasn’t going to write anything too heavy. Guess what idea struck me fast and hard approximately 27 minutes after I made that decision?
Ha. I can just hear God up above giggling in my ear.
During my sophomore year of college I took a much needed trip home to Orlando and I visited the church I attended when I was still in high school. Our college pastor (shout out to Brandon if he ever reads this) was talking about forgiveness.
Specifically, he was talking about two different kinds of people that just can’t seem to forgive and let go:
The Chronic Grudge-Holder: We keep the wrongdoings of others at the forefront of our minds and hearts, sleep is lost due to hatred and disdain, and our faces reflect scorn and inward emotional turmoil. Because of this, the one that hurts us knows that it is going to take a little more than time and remorse to get back into our good graces.
The One that Forgets but Never Forgives (this is me): We push the issue so far back into our minds we couldn’t even touch it with a ten-foot pole. We sacrifice the emotional release that comes when we forgive because we would rather settle for the immediate comfort that comes with forgetting. Incident after incident piles up, and to each belongs a certain weight of burden, without feeling the freedom of forgiveness.
As he was preaching, immediately I knew which category I fell into. I was a forget-er. A year and a half later and I feel* like I’ve barely encountered any situations in which I thought forgiveness was necessary (usually, I’m the one who needs forgiveness).
*(feel being the key word, I know I’ve just looked past things when I should have given myself time to forgive.)
But something happened a few months ago that left me pretty torn up. Something that really hurt me as an individual and forever broke my trust with that person.
It took me a few weeks to really get over the pain I was undergoing, but soon I was feeling myself again. Or so I thought.
I started listening to this wicked band and one of their songs really got me in the reflecting mood (End Credits by Eden, if you’re curious). It triggered feelings of sadness and brokenness and I just could not stop thinking about how badly I had been wronged.
I had still not forgiven them.
Today we are constantly reminded by our culture to forgive and forget, but this series of events led me to realize that I had accomplished the latter but left the former in the dust. I have forgotten and let myself push aside forgiveness like it’s my choice instead of a command that God expects me to obey (Ephesians 4:22). It’s such a simple command, but it’s so easily overlooked by so many of us.
My gut and heart was unsettled at my inability to forgive this one person. And I ruminated all the other ways that I’ve dealt with forgiving others in situations before this one.
Oh boy, did I think a lot.
I tried to recall situations that really caused me deep pain in the past. Things that haunted me for years.
And then I realized I had never really forgiven anyone.
I hadn’t forgiven my high school ex. I hadn’t forgiven my parents. I hadn’t forgiven myself. And I hadn’t forgiven the person that most recently hurt me.
How could this even be possible? Had I really just pushed every single bad thing that’s ever happened to me back into my subconscious? Out of my awareness? Had I really never dealt with the problem and given my heart the rest it so desperately needed?
The answer is yes. Yes to all of it.
I am a Christian. And the reason I am a Christian is because of the grace and mercy of my Father. I am a Christian because of the power Christ displayed and the forgiveness He freely gave me, so that I may forever rest in His embrace.
So, how could I have let myself get into such a place where forgiveness didn’t even enter my mind anymore? How could I have possibly prevented myself from excusing someone the way that He so greatly excused me?
Because it was easy. Because (at the time) it was painless. The sham of a smile I wore was not meant to mislead others, but it did play a tremendous role in helping me deceive myself. In reality, my spirit was weighed down by all of the emotional baggage that I had never asked Jesus to help me unpack.
So, I’m going to do that from here on out.
Dear Father, I ask that you please help me let go of everything I’ve been holding onto. Help me forgive everyone that’s ever hurt me, intentionally and unintentionally. Without You, I know that I could never be able to completely forgive, I will always push it back. Please help me obey your command to forgive others just as you have forgiven me. Help me be like you (Luke 23:34).