“Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.” Psalm 130:3-4 NLT
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness does not mean reconciliation. It may but not always.
Forgiveness does not mean it’s done once and for all. It may but not always.
Forgiveness does not feel good. It may but it leads to peace.
Forgiveness does not mean you were right. It may but not always.
Forgiveness does not dismiss, belittle, condescend your hurt. It hurt! That’s a fact! And we may think we put it behind us and wham! Something triggers us right back to where we were with all the pain and confusion we thought we left behind.
Many years ago I fell in love with a handsome, intelligent, dynamic man. He called himself a Christian. Many women were starstruck by him. I was not. In the beginning any way. We dated. We had wonderful conversations and little gifts—all the things that make a new romantic relationship heavenly. Walking on air and sunshine! Six months in the abuse began. The belittling, the abandonment, the intimidation. I broke up with him—many times because maybe, just maybe, if I love him enough… But I participated in an unknown dance of terror. Last breakup. Then the stalking. I moved from my hometown and started over, with my son, I might add. My roommate was a male because I feared being alone. A few in my new church were lovely. No judgment. Included my son and me in many Church functions. In fact, I put him in the Christian school, which he enjoyed.
However, I was an anxious, traumatized mess. I was functioning quite well but I would jump at loud noise, refuse to go anywhere alone. Finally, I went to a therapist. With lots of work and prayer, healing began because (surprise!) I attracted and kept this man because of patterns in my childhood. A pattern I hoped to fulfill with love. So unaware! Childhood stuff!
I had to forgive myself first. I made horrible decisions in my personal life because I was unaware. But taking myself to our Father, a professional and supportive church friends along with time, the healing began. Have I forgiven this man? Yes. Was there reconciliation? No! Did I find forgiveness for my childhood traumas? Yes. Was there reconciliation? Not really. There were phone calls and limited visits with some tension. I learned my limits. I learned to set boundaries. The dance of terror was ended. Did I forgive once and for all? No. Situations always come up in life to trigger those dark times. But they’re a blessing in disguise, a caution sign. I walk away.
Knowing, deeply knowing how loved we are by our Father, deeply knowing Jesus and his sacrifice, deeply knowing a mature Christian counselor and/or friend makes all the difference in forgiveness. It’s another discovery process along the journey home. And the truth does set us free if we face the misery first.
Thank you for forgiveness, especially the things “we do not know what we’re doing.” Help us to see that because of your Son, love and grace we can face the dark and unknown with hope. Open our hearts. Open our minds. Open our hands.