What a tough word! It’s always a hard one to swallow. It requires you to put your pride down and eat a lot of humble pie sometimes. Asking for forgiveness is especially hard when the situation wasn’t your fault…
Throughout my life, there have been many painful and harsh episodes that I have had to endure. Innocence was broken and many dreams were shattered. Some were caused by faulty decision-making yet many were by cruel intent. But I survived and I could still smile.
Somehow, I had convinced myself that I had forgiven them. I did not wake up every day and wish them harm. I did not plot ways to hurt them or make their lives miserable.
Actually, I wished them well. I really hoped that they would live a happy and content life. It just couldn’t be as happy as mine or more content than mine. And I just never seemed to have enough time to pray for them… Oh well, I thought about it. That had to count for something, right?
This thought crept in and kept nagging. Had I really forgiven them after all?
After reading the technical definition of forgiveness, I had to really sit back and do some soul-searching.
Webster defines it as follows:
1: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)
2: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)
3: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)
I, guess, whenever I think about various situations, I still tend to get a “little” angry. And if I dwell on it too long, acceptably, I get a “whole” lot of angry.
Then I get indignant and sad and really very oversensitive. Blood pressure fluctuates and the vein in my temples starts running a marathon!
Yeah, so based on Mr. Webster, I guess I may still have little un-forgiveness that has to be addressed!
But… I still did not agree with the whole Webster definition, so I looked up the Etymology of the root word, Forgive. This is what they said:
Old English forgiefan “give, grant, allow; forgive,” also “to give up” and “to give in marriage;” from for- “completely” + giefan “give” (see give).
The modern sense of “to give up desire or power to punish” is from use of the compound as a Germanic loan-translation of Latin perdonare (cf. Old Saxon fargeban, Dutch vergeven, German vergeben, Gothic fragiban; see pardon). Related: Forgave; forgiven; forgiving.]
Now, the most important part of this definitions is the “to give up desire or power to punish” part. (Let me just say that when I first read it, I misread ‘for’ instead of ‘or’). And then I thought to myself…
Yes, it is true.
I still want the power to make these people to pay.
I want to yell and scream at them.
I want to sucker punch them in the face and say, “Yeah, douche bag, how does that feel? Not very nice, huh?”
(I’ll just take a little glass of water with that conviction! No rush… Thanks!)
Now Let’s Get Down to Business:
Forgiveness is another one of those action verbs that has to be done daily. I must choose to forgive those who hurt me. You must choose to forgive…
Do not feel like your pain is invalidated! God knows your pain is real. Your suffering is real. Your memories are real. But when you hold on to this un-forgiveness, you are the only one that suffers. The people who wounded you may never know how deep your scars go. Un-forgiveness leads to bitterness and the book of Proverbs says that bitterness rots the bone.
We must give up the right to hold people in our resentment because someone… somewhere had to forgive us. Maybe that girl in high school who’s life you made miserable because she had no taste in clothes. Or maybe your best friend whose wife you stole away during a dry season in their marriage. Mistakes and bad choices happen. Again, they may never know how deep your scar goes as the offender.
God forgave us even when we didn’t ask. You should forgive them even if they didn’t ask. The healing has to begin somewhere…even if you never find out why it happened or how could they do such a thing?