I believe one of the hardest things about being Christian is realizing that once we get dipped down in the waters of baptism and/or are born again through the profession of Jesus Christ as our Savior we forget that we are human beings. Or maybe it’s just me. There are many times that I forget that I am a mere human being with a multitude of flaws that don’t just go away because I believe in Jesus. And in being human one of the hardest things I’ve found in my life, despite what the bible says is forgiving others. Which is exactly why I’ve spent months trying to write this blog post and today it literally took seeing two posts on social media with mini snippets on forgiveness to get me to write again. I realized that this will definitely be a series because it is something I am continuing to process and work through.
So, let’s start with a definition. The New Oxford American Dictionary states that forgiving is to “1stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake.2To cancel a debt.” To forgive means that the feelings of hurt, harm, and ill protection that we either inflict upon ourselves or have been inflicted upon us must be let go. It means that I, that we, must move on, learn from the hurt and not continue to hold it against that person or thing. It means that growth and rebirth must happen in that place. I even argue it means to forget. The second definition of a debt being canceled is where I think the world can back up the scriptures in this regard. Many times we say or at least I know I say I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget. I may verbally pronounce forgiveness, I may even act it out, but I still harbor those feelings of hurt, resentment and anger towards the person. I’ve built up walls so that we will not actually grow or move from that place. However, when we make mistakes on an in-store purchase and have to press the cancel button on the credit card machine, the screen lights up <Transaction Canceled> and it doesn’t show up on our statements. It’s removed from the record just like when God forgives me he removes my sin from the record; I’m made clean and new.
So, then I started to dig around for scriptures and I found the 7th chapter of Mark to be perfect in describing why it can be so hard to forgive. Jesus is welcomed into the home of a Pharisee and a woman who is known around the town for her sins enters the home as they fellowship; she drops to the feet of Jesus and uses her expensive oil to show the utmost hospitality and service to Christ. She has humbled herself, come to him broken and showed her willingness to serve him. The other disciples are shocked as Jesus allows her in his presence, just as he continuously welcomes sinners into his space. The disciples call out all her sins and he responds in verses 46-47 saying: “You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
To forgive and be forgiven, takes humility and vulnerability. It takes faith and seeing oneself or that person as not being the same. Now, forgiveness doesn’t mean you should go back to how things were before because it means new growth, letting go, releasing and setting boundaries for healing. In examining the relationship that needs the most forgiveness in my life, I realized that this was the main issue keeping progress from occurring. I tell people that my father and I are a work in progress. He’s been in and out of my life in order to work on himself and be the healthiest he could be physically, mentally and emotionally. And each time he’s been better, now being the longest everyone around me including him have pressured me to forgive and forget. And while I’ve verbally done so and am in the throws of the process of truly forgiving, not seeing him in his past, but seeing him as someone new has been the hardest part. Just as the disciples did I was letting his past sins impede upon the possibility of starting a new relationship with him. I had to and continuously have to let go of where he was and look at him where he is now. But that also means being honest about how I feel, how his actions have affected me and hurt me. It doesn’t mean getting a pass. It means being accountable and acknowledging the hurt so that then we can allow the love that Jesus calls for to cover and transform it into something beautiful. It’s not fun or fair and sometimes its one sided for each of us. And that’s okay because the process continues and self-healing is taking place.
So, let’s look at the last sentence in verse 47 once again. It says: “But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Wow. Wow. Wow. Look at the power the forgiveness can hold. When I forgive it means I am filled with love that I am open to healing. It’s a personal act of empowerment. When I forgive I give that love. I open up the doorway for the other person to also grow, heal and love. This, this is what God does for us daily. I know I am not worthy of receiving his forgiveness for all that I do, but regardless he forgives me and loves me. He fills me with his power, his compassion and the ability to live life daily. I’m not deserving yet he does it anyway and it has made me a better person.
Look out for part II!
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