Is forgiveness a terrifying buzz word for you? I came from a background that required me to back down on my rights, giving the offender full freedom to do what he/she wanted. Forgiveness meant letting others run over me, with a smile, a good attitude, knowing that “God works everything out for my good.” Eventually, I came to realize that doormat isn’t equal to forgiveness. But I still feel like I’m lost a bit in the complexity of what it means to forgive. Will you take a bit of a journey through the fog with me as we begin to work out the meaning and impact of forgiveness?
First off – Forgiveness isn’t forgetting or ignoring. Let’s face reality here, forgetting is near impossible for experiences that generated strong emotions. I mean dementia can help, but almost no other reality in the world can take away the full impact of a harmful experience. A one-time, brutal attack can no more easily be forgotten or ignored than years of isolation or prejudice. Trying to forget or ignore rots the soul from within the victim. It is the truth that creates freedom. (John 8.31-32) And freedom that paves the way towards forgiveness.
Next – Forgiveness isn’t revenge. Revenge is driven by hate and anger, creating more hate and anger. We’ve all seen the horror that occurs when someone feels hurt and retaliates… the damage has an exponential affect, often altering whole family’s trajectories.
Finally – Forgiveness is leaving the effects of the pain and harm in the hands of the one who will right all wrongs. At Mission1Race, we know that God is the ultimate judge, holding us through the years of turmoil, eventually annihilating evil. All Evil. If you aren’t quite sure on the God-thing, you may have another way to let go. Forgiveness is a loosening of our need for revenge and hate, a demand of sorts for retribution. Forgiveness is understanding that we are no more righteous than any one other person (this topic needs to be its own series of posts – since I can’t fully dive into this right now, just think about the last time you were most angry with your spouse or children). Forgiveness is leaving the pain and harm in God’s hands, taking it out of ours, letting him deal with the offender.
Sometimes forgiveness is displaying the truth, which eventually brings freedom to both offender and victim. Sometimes forgiveness is living out the best life that is yours to live, leaving the chaos in God’s hands. Oh the terror of both ends of the spectrum – It can be the scariest endeavor to stand to fight when all you want is to hide. It can be the most painful act to leave something in God’s hands when all you want is revenge. Forgiveness is knowing God is bigger, and he will take care of it.
We are aware of the magnitude of this subject and the inadequate brevity of this post. Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.