I want to send you a giant thank you for reading my writings. It means so much to me, especially when I hear something like, “This was exactly what I needed to hear!” It’s an honor to be a part of helping to bring hope and healing to your life. And I just discovered something super cool—Crazy Hope is read across 38 US states and 21 countries! I couldn’t believe that when I saw that on my writer’s dashboard this week! Awesome!
Last week’s post on how forgiveness will change your pain (read it here) connected with many of you. I decided to write just a titch more on the topic.
"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” These are some of the last words Jesus said while nailed to the Cross. If it were me on that Cross, I wouldn’t have been so gracious. I probably would’ve said something like, “Father, forgive them… but only after they figure out how much they’ve hurt me.”
Forgiving someone who doesn’t know how much they’ve hurt you, or worse yet, who knows how much they’ve hurt you but they’re not sorry about it—this is where the forgiveness rubber truly meets the road.
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So What is Forgiveness?
According to the American Psychological Association: Forgiveness is the mental and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment, indignation, or anger against another person for a perceived offense, difference, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.
Put another way, forgiveness is us giving up our rights to get even. When someone has deeply hurt you, they owe you a debt. It’s can feel as if they have taken from you your sense of happiness and wholeness. I’ve forgiven in the past when I decided to stop trying to get someone to pay me back the money they owed. The forgiveness freed me and them, even though it was costly to me. To forgive means not to say it didn’t happen, it did, but I no longer needed to seek recompense from the other person. There is nothing owed to me any longer. It’s then that I realize I still have possession of my happiness and wholeness.
I spent time this morning thinking about a handful of people who I need to forgive—people who have hurt me the most. I didn’t immediately go to “Father, forgive them.” Just the mention of their names opened up the gates of sadness; remembering pain isn’t fun. Then I moved from sadness to anger for the loss of relationship and the feelings of abandonment and betrayal I’ve been carrying for years.
These feelings pop up from time to time, and, depending on my mental state, can hold various levels of sway over me. It’s like these people, and this unforgiveness, are anchors in my spirit, tempting to pull me under.
I love what author Lewis B. Smedes said about forgiveness: “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” (Thanks John Jordan for the reminder of this quote!)
There is no way to get away from our past and its effects on us. We can learn from it, but we can’t escape from it. We may forget it, but we can’t erase it. The only thing that can release us from the insane grip of a painful past is forgiveness. In fact, not to forgive is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die.
Forgiveness sets others free, but mostly, frees us. What are you waiting for?
Maybe today the person you need to forgive most is you. I certainly get this. I want to offer myself forgiveness for the person I’ve been in the past, not just in how I treated other people, but how I’ve treated myself. I’ve spent a lot of my life speaking really horrible things to myself. It was as if I wanted God to know how miserable I thought I was, in order to be on the same page with what I had been told was an angry God. I want to end the ridiculousness of negative self-talk, not to mention the horrible theology.
My thoughts about God have changed quite a bit over the recent years (honestly, I know way less than I used to think I did!). And if you’ve read any of my writings you won’t be surprised to know that I’m viewing God as a God of love and compassion. A God of healing and redemption. Not a God who is disgusted when looking at Creation. I’m believing that when God looks at me, God feels delight. God is singing beautiful songs over me… and over you.
I refuse to let anyone tell me otherwise. Even me.
“Who we are in God is a beloved child. Our identity is no longer dependent on the estimation of our culture or even on our own estimation of ourselves. Through prayer, and the awareness of God within us, we continually discover our true identity, ‘life … hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3).“ —Richard Rohr
“If we do the forgiveness work, forgiving our families and ourselves, they become slightly less ‘them,’ and we become slightly more ‘we.’ It’s ultimately about reunion. You might as well start this process at the dinner table.” —Anne Lamott
Want a fun reminder of God’s grace? Check out my “pirate version” of “Amazing Grace” arranged by my friend Chris Davis.
Crazy Hope is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Mark: Great follow-up. And thanks the the source of that quote! I had seen the name before but it has slipped away from memory.
And again, how is it that you have nailed it once again 💯percent ❣️❣️
Your Friend Forever in Christ