Forgiveness isn’t a comfortable place. It’s really hard to tell someone that things “will be okay”. It’s like saying, “hey, you’ll feel better eventually, get over it”. It’s so much easier to sympathize, to agree that the other person was in the wrong, to dig the hole deeper and deeper around ourselves.
What is forgiveness, really? It’s not saying that the other person was right. It’s not saying that we’re horrible people. It’s not even saying that things are okay now. It’s just letting go of the hurt, climbing out of the hole and continuing on with life. It’s letting go and letting God.
So why does it hurt so much? Why is it so hard to forgive, so hard to “never let the sun set” on our anger? I recently forgave someone that I never thought I could forgive. I never thought I could get rid of the hurt, the sting of memory of being abandoned by someone I thought I trusted. When I think about the person, I no longer think about the pain, I no longer feel hatred. Instead, I feel thankfulness. Yes, thankfulness. I’m no longer tied to the hurt, and I can move on. I can wish the person well, and thank God that I’m free from the chains of unforgiveness. It’s an amazing feeling – nine months ago, I couldn’t have imagined feeling this way.
But forgiveness isn’t comfortable. An incrementally small part of me wishes I was still angry so that I could kill them again and again in my mind, to recreate the scene of when we meet again (when I’m on top of the world). You couldn’t have approached me with forgiveness six months afterwards, with that anger/sadness burning a hole in my heart. Yet, throughout the past nine months, God has been teaching me the true definition of forgiveness.
I think it’s a misunderstanding that forgiveness is saying that it’s okay. Some things may never be “okay” again in our innermost selves – we may always regret that moment, that event, that lost friendship. Forgiveness is telling God that I can’t take it anymore. I can no longer live with the burden of hurt, the guilt of “what if”. I need the freedom that God promises through his grace, and this is found in forgiving. Letting go and letting God.
I’m reminded of a song by Martina McBride from a few years ago. In Anyway, she sings “God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good. When I pray, it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should.” Life has a funny way of turning us in circles. I never would have dreamed that I’d be at this point in my life without the support of this person, yet amazing things are happening that I never would have dreamed of nine months ago. The very fact that I can thank God for the grace of His forgiveness astounds me every day. I don’t want to hold back. I don’t want to be haunted by what I can’t control, what I couldn’t do, where I failed. The things I wanted nine months ago are not the catalysts for the amazing things that are happening now, and it’s so much better this way.
You may not always be able to see what the future holds, but give the past over to God, and let Him work His miracles. Let go. Let God. Forgiveness isn’t comfortable, but grace and thanksgiving mend the heart, the soul, the mind. Choose forgiveness.