If we are waiting for everyone who’s ever hurt us to acknowledge our pain before we forgive them, we’ll end up going through life dragging behind LOTS of baggage and bitterness. Regardless, sometimes we just have to let it all go, forgive and move on.
These are the words I heard come out of my own mouth as I was trying to give some small piece of wisdom to my little sister in my efforts help her through a tough situation she was facing with a friend who had betrayed her and walked away from their friendship as though it had meant nothing, without apology and without explanation.
In the quivering of her voice, the pain in her words and the tears she she couldn’t withhold, I could all too well relate. I had been there, more than once. And I don’t know how much weight my words carried with her seventeen year old heart. But one thing I am sure of; in that moment, those words were meant for my heart equally as much as hers.
I believe it is true she wants to do the right thing and to be able to just forgive and move on. We all do. I mean, doesn’t that seem lovely? But how do any of us justify forgiving someone when the offense and the wounds they have inflicted haven’t been, or worst…..may never be acknowledged?
There is no easy out here. No easy answer. Extending unearned, unwarranted forgiveness goes against everything in our human nature. It’s feels most impossible. And honestly, I’m convinced that in our humanity alone we are absolutely incapable of the task. As I told her, it is only through Jesus, and because of what He did for us when we did nothing to deserve or earn it and His Spirit living in us that we can and we must forgive when it isn’t deserved or even desired.
It’s what HE did…..and still does for us.
Forgiveness doesn’t hinge upon whether or not the offender ever asks for it, or whether or not they will ever even acknowledge their wrong. It hinges fully upon our desire to let nothing or no one take us down the dark lonely road of woundedness and bitterness. And upon the command to forgive and love, as He has forgiven and loved us.
Forgiveness is not a feeling. We will never feel like letting someone off the hook. And it isn’t a one time deal. It is choice we make daily, based on obedience and surrender.
It isn’t our job to determine the motives and intentions…..or lack thereof of another. And It isn’t our job to punish them by refusing to let the offense go. No amount of harboring resentment and bitterness is worth separating ourselves from communion with the one who created and redeems us. When we resign our own rights and commit to live a life of forgiving and letting it all go anyway, we are admitting that nothing is worth sacrificing our own wholeness and freedom.
It’s what He did.
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he
suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges
1 Peter 2:23