For most of my life when the subject of forgiveness has come up in church I’ve tuned out and used it as a free pass to sit back in relax. I would tell you that I’m really good at forgiving people, and honestly, I believed that. As I’ve gotten older, and simply had to interact with more people, I’ve realized forgiveness done well is never simple. Our feelings are complex and without intention it’s very simple to skim over the act of forgiving without doing the hard work required to be done well.
And you know what…I want to be a rich, well-rounded person. After a few recent experiences I realized that I was willing to get messy and face to face with the reality of forgiveness.
Here’s what I’m learning.
1. I focus more on the story I tell myself than reality. It usually feels easier, and honestly more fun, to hold onto what we want to believe about the situation rather than digging deep to discover the root of what’s happening.
2. I feel responsible for justice. I have this twisted belief in my mind that if I forgive a person they will never receive the justice I believe they deserve. I want justice. I want them to realize how they hurt me, or event admit that they were wrong. But, God tells us to turn the other cheek and love them anyway. So, that’s what I’ll keep trying to do.
3. I have to choose to forgive…again and again. I’ve discovered that I’m a pretty all or nothing person, and especially so when it comes to forgiveness. I expect to make the decision to forgive someone and then move on. So, when those same feelings of anger and hurt keep coming up I get so frustrated. The truth is, when someone hurts us deeply we probably won’t simply move on. In my case, it’s etched into our relationship – a defining moment. Because of that i have to continue to choose to forgive.