Forgiveness Is Serious Business
Unforgiveness is Destroying Our Hearts
II’ve had some people say some pretty horrible things about me. Like, serious accusations about my character:
“You’re too much!”
“You’re a hypocrite!”
These voices echo in my head. Like anchors in my spirit, they are continually tempting to pull me under, especially when delivered by people I felt that I trusted and loved.
The truth is, yes, I am those things they say, but they’re also the things I’m working hard to not be (hopefully they’re becoming less true over time). Those words don’t define me, but they can certainly remind me what I’m capable of. And boy, it hurts like hell to hear.
I pray that I can one day be forgiven.
The reality is that I’m continually in need of being forgiven. And continually in need of forgiving others.
For my peace of mind, I need to forgive the people who cast these accusations—even though it feels supremely difficult. My heart can feel dragged down by intense feelings of being misunderstood, not to mention feeling abandoned or betrayed. To forgive doesn’t mean that I never feel sad about what happened.
But holding on to unforgiveness feels like continually choosing to be miserable. You may have heard, “Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison, hoping the rat will die.” It’s so true, and I’m tired of living that way.
I used to think that I couldn’t forgive someone unless they knew how much they had hurt me. As if my forgiveness could magically cause repentance. We could call that “performative forgiveness”—look at how forgiving I am! And how much in need of forgiveness you are! I’m done with that baloney.
There have been a couple times when I’ve lent large sums of money to friends in need…only to have that person stop returning my calls or texts. To forgive means to stop trying, and even stop needing to get them to pay me back.
To forgive doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. It did happen, but I no longer need to seek recompense from the other person. Nothing is owed to me any longer.
When I forgive, I wipe the slate clean. And in the process, I set myself and the other person free.
The last words of Jesus, “It is finished,” are a reference to something a Jewish High Priest would say after offering an animal sacrifice for the sins of the people of Israel. These animal sacrifices became a never-ending cycle of sacrifice. Jesus is in effect saying, “This is the end of that way of living. I will be the final sacrifice.”
We no longer need to believe that our sins aren’t forgiven, Jesus covered them all. Which means we don’t have to stay busy counting sin—our own or those of other people.
We can live knowing the Slate has been wiped clean. Which frees us up to let love, rather than unforgiveness, be our driving force. It’s love that will change the hardest of hearts, including mine. (Tweet this)
I pray that I will be forgiven for all the times I have hurt someone. Not so that my ego could be appeased, but so that reconciliation can happen.
I will continue to work to forgive those who hurt me, misunderstood me, misrepresented me, or even chosen to walk away from me, ignore me, or not have any interest in reconciliation. Their reasons for doing so, are honestly, none of my business. But my heart needs to forgive, to release, to let go, to surrender each of these instances of brokenness, trusting love to fill in the holes once filled by unforgiveness.
Here’s a gorgeous poem from the amazing Justin McRoberts: