3 Things I Have Learned about Forgiving Myself and Others
1. God-forgiven sin often fails to become human-forgotten sin, especially when reminders of our mistakes are everywhere we turn.
I saw a quote on a church street sign a few weeks ago which said,“Oh for the moment that I can’t remember what He has already forgotten.” I was struck by the painful accuracy of those simple words, and a million things I still can’t seem to let go of came to the forefront of my mind. We all have felt the lingering hurt of past wrongs, and the line between feeling hurt and feeling angry is much easier to cross than we would like to admit. So, you and I shouldn’t feel discouraged when forgiveness doesn’t seem to mend our hearts. Flesh wounds can take weeks, months, and sometimes years to fully heal. Why would we expect wounds of the heart to be any different? We must grant ourselves the grace to feel the hurt and know that we have not failed when we do. We are simply human.
2. Where forgiveness meets grief, the broken soul meets the Savior.
So, what can we do with this hurt? That’s the beautiful part of forgiveness. When I have chosen to surrender and forgive, handing over my bitterness to God, I have come into a place of grief, and there, I have met the Savior. He came into this world to experience human grief so that He can walk with you and me through our own. This is not an experience I can break down or describe because it is specific and unique to the individual. While I cannot promise this will look a certain way, I can promise that you will be met in your grief with incomparable and unconditional love.
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
3. Forgiveness is a marathon, not a moment.
There is a process of falling into sin, and there is a process of stepping into forgiveness. Sin rarely occurs in a moment. But just as easily as I have slipped into sin, I can slip into the grace my heavenly Father so willingly offers.
I can count days where I have chosen to embrace forgiveness, breathing out hurt until grief disappears into peace. I am still counting as there will always be grief to breathe out and peace to breathe in.
The real sign of forgiveness is that I don’t seek to punish the person who wronged me; I seek the good of that person. The real sign of forgiving myself is that I don’t seek to self-justify or self-reprimand; I seek to pursue what is lovely, what is pure, and what is good until the grief fades away into peace.
The process of forgiveness is messy and full of imperfections. I do not have all the answers nor have I mastered forgiveness, but in every trial, God has met me with grace. In every broken relationship, whether with myself or another person, God has met me with grace.
Unmerited, unconditional grace is waiting to meet you too.