Well I decided to tackle the topic of forgiveness today. I have to say this is a tough one!! It is a quite lengthy post, because it is such a tough topic. Why am I looking at this so soon? Well since the writers before me all talk about the topic and the need to reach this place before my life can truly move on, I felt the time was now. Don’t get me wrong, I am not so naive as to think one blog post will solve this, but life is too short to be stuck in a valley and let the wrong doings of one keep me from moving forward. So I first looked at what scripture had to say about the topic. This led me to The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15.
"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ' For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
I understand and I do want the Lord to forgive me when I sin, because we all sin, but I cannot help but struggle with what exactly is forgiveness. Does this mean you just pat someone on the back like a buddy and send them on their way to wreak havoc in someone else’s life? Given my love of research, I wanted to explore this further and thought I would start with the definition of forgiveness - “to stop feeling anger toward.” Wait a minute, now I am getting somewhere. Pastor Rick Warren then really helped me investigate this a little further.
“There are a lot of bad things in life that are evil. Not everything that happens in this world is God’s will, but that’s why we need God in our lives. So forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened, it’s about finding what good came out of it.”
“What good came out of it” – I am assuming the “it” in this case means the evil. He goes on further to say that “Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves that allows us to get on with our lives instead of being trapped in the past by resentment.” Wait, did he just say “gift”??? And isn’t my birthday in 2 days??? So this means that I could possibly give myself THE BEST gift(s) ever??!!!
So what are the gifts that I have received from this “life lesson”?
1) I have gotten to observe just how blessed I am with the incredible friends and family in my life. These are the TRUE friends and family, not someone just pretending to be.
2) I have also seen once again that God protects His children.
3) God has also shown me that this was NOT about me. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, God can bring people in to our lives for good, but the other person has free will to choose what God has planned or to throw it away.
4) Sometimes “the enemy” can use those closest to us to keep us from fulfilling all that God has planned for our lives. But God will take care of this too. Forgiving will allow me to go where God wants me to.
Joan Lunden once said that “Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” WAIT A MINUTE – STOP THE BUS!!! Forgiveness is a GIFT AND will make me look better too!! Why yes, this is true because my laughter and smile has returned and there is a spring in my step!! Happy Early Birthday to me yet again!!!
Maya Angelou wrote “You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’” The key phrase being “I’m finished with it” and what exactly is the “it”? For me “it” means having the courage to stand up and say “I am finished with being taken advantage of and used,” not just for my sake but for my children as well.
Well Gerald Jampolsky says that “Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions. “ So, the “it” were also my misperceptions and as Jane Austen so eloquently put it “Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope for a cure.” No matter how hard we might try, we cannot help those with a selfish spirit – there is no cure, so me must forgive and move on. Tyler Perry knows himself, “It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.”
Courage, Freedom, Laughter, Peace, Power…just a few more gifts that forgiveness is giving me!! The poet Clarissa Pinkole Estes wrote the following.
“How does one know she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it at all.”
I think this is so vitally important and sums this up so perfectly! I can forgive and yet feel sorrow. God gave someone such an amazing gift - a home, a Godly wife, and unconditional love, but they chose not to accept or cherish that gift, for this I can feel sorry for him. And while I approach midlife and find myself surrounded with the most amazing group of family and friends, and I know how truly blessed I am, he feels friendless. That is incredibly sad, but something that happens when one has spent their life trampling on the hearts of those who have loved him.
Author Lewis B. Smedes said that “You will know the forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.” Because if he could not find love and home with me, as he approached the latter part of life then you can only hope that he finds it before his time here on this earth is done. I wish him well on his journey and pray for all of those in his path.
Though the MOST precious gift that I will ever receive this year is the PEACE of knowing that I did all that God ever asked me to do as a wife and while that may not have been good enough, God has blessed me beyond measure with the people that I do have in my life. I forgive because I am not going to waste the life that I have been blessed with on anger. God taught me a long time ago that He will take care of those who hurt us and betray us, so I will let Him handle the rest.
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain