A first century young Jewish teacher was asked this question; “… how often should I forgive someone who offends me?”
The teacher’s response began with a statement and then a story. It took more than telling to clearly illustrate and explain the point at which forgiveness can be offered.
Haven’t we all had that inner struggle and search in an attempt to know what is forgivable?
We have asked questions like, when is the right time to forgive? Are all wrongs and hurts worth forgiving?
Even when we sum up the courage to forgive we still struggle with forgetting. Is it really possible to forgive and forget?
Many people have aired their thoughts, opinions and theories on the issue of forgiveness. However one thing I am certain of is it takes more than knowledge to forgive.
There are those times when what we know in our head does not agree with what we feel and experience in our heart.
Forgiveness is one of those gifts that raise a battle between our head (what we know) and our heart (what we feel).
Should I or should I not forgive? Should I let it go or seek a timely vengeance? Can I ever trust again or heal again?
There are many questions I myself haven’t even considered when we have to talk about forgiveness like today.
I am sorry to disappoint you but I do not have all the answers.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. – Louis B. Smedes
I too have been hurt. I too have been disappointed, abused and pushed to the side like a piece of coin no longer needed to pay the bills.
I have met the good, the bad and the ugly. And from all I have experienced, I can say I takes courage to forgive.
Despite my spiritual upbringing and training where I learned it is a gold principle to forgive, I will not be hideous to say I have fought the battle over my head and my heart.
The question ‘should I or should I not forgive’ is one I am familiar with. I am not in anyway comparing my struggles and pain to what you might have been through. I am only piecing some part of my story to help you realize you haven’t walked the path of the forgiveness dilemma alone.
What then do I have to say to you though I have admitted I do not have all the answers you seek?
What I have is the capsule that enabled me take the right stance and choose the power of forgiveness over the depression of unforgiveness.
Unforgiveness is a burden more than carrying a camel on your back in a desert. It does not only take away your remaining strength, it steals your vitality and turns you to a burden bearer without a reward.
The weight of an unforgiving heart is what propelled me to begin an exploration to what it feels like to offer to even those who do not deserve the gift of forgiveness.
Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
I grew up understanding why we need to forgive those who wronged us but it took me a much longer time to understand how to really forgive.
Forgiveness isn’t just an act. It is an art.
It isn’t just the movement we make to those who have wronged us and say to them, ‘I forgive you’. That really isn’t forgiveness. Yes that counts in the art of forgiveness but real forgiveness happens long before any apologies are made.
Take sometime to think about the number of people who have stepped on your toes. I am very sure only few turned back to say ‘I am sorry.”
People have so mastered the act of saying ‘I am sorry’ that it has now become a routine than a heart offering and plea for forgiveness and oneness.
But until we take away our ability to forgive from the hands of the offender, we will remain prisoners in the cage of our own mind.
Store these up somewhere because you might need to rehearse them some day at a more needful time;
– If you do not forgive, you are caging yourself in bitterness.
– Un-forgiveness builds hatred in your heart and while this may seem normal, it causes more heart aches than you will be willing to accept.
– Forgiveness is the sweetest form of revenge.
– Un-forgiveness holds you in the past while you strive to enjoy today and live for tomorrow.
– Forgiveness is a personal benefit first before it is a gift to the offender.
No hurt is worth the sacrifice of our own souls and peace.
Are you a prisoner or are you free?