"Today I decided to forgive you. Not because you apologized, or because you acknowledged the pain that you caused me,but because my soul deserves peace." ~ Najwa Zebian
Forgiveness is not something that comes easy. In fact forgetting can be just as hard. Beginning again, well to accomplish this we have to be ready and willing to leave our baggage behind at the train station, ALL of it. That ain't easy is it? I don't know about you but I know myself, and walking away gracefully isn't always in my demeanor nor part of my disposition. I may be graceful, but I'm a southern woman. No one pushes around a southern woman, that's for certain. The other thing about a southern woman, good or bad is she has the uncanny ability to put you in your place with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes all while words of sugar drip from her lips. Now the truth is my emotions get the best of me sometimes and my tongue too. But let me make this very clear I'm not a my way or the highway kind of girl. I believe in compromise and admitting when I'm wrong. In fact I'm usually the first to apologize or attempt to make peace even when I feel I'm not necessarily wrong. However when it comes to the protection of my family I am fierce, And yes, I'm just as human as the next girl. If I've learned anything though in recent years it's this,"It's OK to say God, I don't feel like I can forgive but I'm asking You to give me the grace and strength to do it."
What I know about life is this, it's full of questions, the whys and the hows but it's also full of love, happiness and second chances. The truth is not all second chances are easy. The other thing is they don't always involve those wrapped up in the genesis of the wound. Most aren't even tickets back to the same train station. They are however, safe passage to new beginnings, for redemption and the recovery of peace in our lives. God's Word says this in Ephesians 4:31-32, "Stop being mean, bad-tempered, and angry. Quarreling, harsh words, and dislike of others should have no place in your lives. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you because you belong to Christ." The thing I've learned about forgiveness is forgiving someone doesn't always mean reconciliation or repairing the window between your lives, it simply means you've made peace with your own shattered and broken pieces in the aftermath of the storm.There's a brilliant quote by Bryant McGill that sums it up like this, "They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest. This is what not forgiving does.They got it started but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way but when you won't forgive, you are the one inflicting pain on yourself."
In recent years I've learned something really beautiful about forgiveness...it's not made to weaken you, but to strengthen you and set you free. Yes I have suffered incredible loss and pain over these last few years. Much of it unnecessary and unwarranted. I have been the target of blame, resentment, bitterness, jealously and cruel agendas. Much of it unwanted and pointless, and not by my own hands either. Non of that matters though because the hurt still inflicted wounds I've had to tend and recover from. I know right, forgive those who purposely hurt me, plunging a knife into my back while smiling and hugging me? Surely not, how could I even think to say those words...I forgive you? But I have and I do forgive. And why, well because Matthew 6:14-15 tells me this,"When I come face-to-face with how much God has done for me, how can I fail to forgive you?" I know there are many who have been witness to the events of the last several years in my life. Many have seen the devastation and mayhem of those same said events. Some have wondered how do you forgive a situation like that? The truth is being able to forgive, forget and begin again has been a journey. Reminding myself of 1 Corinthians 13:5 has definitely been part of my process. Repeating over and over again,"Love keeps no record of wrong" has been my saving grace. I have dug deep into God's word, evaluating my life, my own intentions and motives and stopped questioning those of others. I am no longer worried with the whys or the hows.
This is the thing, we all have the choice to forgive, forget and to begin again. We can allow bitterness and resentment to consume us or we can choose peace, a reliance upon our Heavenly Father and a hope in the One who knows our hearts. Jesus was hurt, and still He forgave while hanging on a cross.Remember this,"When you have been falsely accused...look up for so was Jesus. When people twist what you say for their own selfish motives...look up for so was Jesus. When you have been betrayed...look up for so was Jesus. It's written Jesus will bring everything hidden in the darkness into the light for all to see. He will bring justice, He will vindicate you. Shake the dust off your feet, forgive and move on." So my advice is to hold on to Jesus casting ALL your cares on Him. After all, "He will defend you; He will never let honest people be defeated." Psalms 55:22
As I wrap up Life Lesson #123 ~ Forgive, Forget, Begin Again remind yourself, holding onto resentment and un-forgiveness is the same thing as drinking poison and expecting the other person to die as so well said by Buddha. This life lesson strikes deep, hits between the eyes begging us to make the choice to show mercy, an extension of love not just to our offenders but to ourselves. That or we continue drinking the poison of un-forgiveness and being consumed by our own toxins. Personally I chose to continue to love, to continue to forgive and continue to grow.
"Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude." ~ Martin Luther King Jr.