Ahh, forgiveness. I’ve talked a lot about it lately. It seems to be my central theme in life. Not sure if that’s a good or bad thing somedays.
I have always struggled with forgiveness. I have pretended to forgive, but really I just pushed it, whatever ‘it’ may be, under the rug for a little bit. I never forgave anyone. Never. In almost 31 years, I never forgave one person.
It wasn’t until last year when I stood face to face with one of the most important decisions of my life, to leave or to forgive, that it finally caught up with me. There would be no more hiding, no more pretending, and no more sweeping.
I would have to face forgiveness once and for all. I had always known this day would come, kind of, but I hadn’t ever considered that I would have to forgive, for the first time, something I had considered my unforgivable.
But I did it. Of course, I’m still doing it. Forgiveness is an on going, choice, every single morning you wake up, that you have to make. I’ve been making it every day since the day it started. Some days were harder than others. There were even days when I wanted to take back my forgiveness. But I did it.
And the good news is that it has gotten easier. Each day that passes it gets easier. (Praise the Lord because there were some dark, dark days.)
But I only want to share this with you because I want to make sure that you understand what it means if I can forgive someone. It means that if I, little ol’ me, can forgive, especially if I can forgive my unforgivable, and let me make sure you know what I mean by unforgivable. I was the one sitting around as my girlfriends shared their heartbreaking stories about being cheated on, pounding my fist on the table saying ‘Not me! Let me find out he’s cheating on me. It would be sooooo over. He wouldn’t even know what to do!’ I would go on and on, dead set in my ways, but when the time came I chose forgiveness.
So if I can forgive, He certainly can forgive. I say this confidently because I know that I wouldn’t have forgiven if it hadn’t had been for Him and His presence.
Forgiveness is so important to our Father that He sent His only son to die for us so that we could be forgiven for all that we have done.
Not some. Not just a little, but all. That’s a pretty big deal, ya know?
Before Justin had made the choice to cheat, he was forgiven. And it hurt Jesus just as much as it hurt me. And that’s how it is for everything. Before we cheat or lie or whatever we do we are forgiven, so if He can forgive us, why wouldn’t we be able to forgive each other?
Well, I can answer for myself. I had a hard time forgiving because it hurt my pride. But I had it all wrong. I thought forgiveness made you look weak, dumb, stupid. I hated it. It meant giving in. It meant defeat. I was never a big fan of losing. But it’s not true. None of it. Forgiveness was one of the most demanding things I have ever done. When I did it, I didn’t feel weak. I was the strongest I had ever been, probably because He was with me, He gave me the strength.
And my pride? I didn’t even think about. There was something very humbling about forgiving. I wasn’t thinking ‘Way to go, Lauren! Good for you! You’re awesome!’ No, it was more like ‘Thank you, Lord for always forgiving me. I don’t deserve it, but thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.’
You see, I had made forgiveness out to be about the other person completely, but it’s not. It’s not about the forgiven, it’s about the forgiver.
You need Him to truly forgive. And when you get that close and that intimate with Him, it changes you. Completely. Entirely. (More on that another day.)
Because when you can forgive it reminds you that you’ve been forgiven. And I’ve been there, I’ve been in a place where I felt like no one, not even God could forgive me for what I’ve done. But that’s just not true. You’re already forgiven, so why not extend that same grace?
It’s not going to be easy. And if I can be completely honest with you, it’s probably going to hurt a lot in the beginning. People aren’t going to understand. The world will make you think it was the weakest choice, but once you do it. Once you realize how much strength it actually takes to forgive, you’ll know the world was wrong. But remember to just lean on Him for it. You can bet that if this is that important to Him, He’s going to do whatever it takes to help you do it. Not just once, but every single time. (I can say that from experience.)
Think you don’t need to forgive anyone? Ask Him. I’m chuckling to myself as I write this because I remember thinking that I didn’t need to forgive anyone and I asked Him and He just gives me name after name, every single day. It’s amazing how much hurt, anger, and resentment you can hold on to. Just ask. I bet you’ll be pretty surprised.