To love those who love you is common, to love those who hurt you is Christian. Whether we have been dumped by a significant other, a parent that has left us, or your roommate ate the last slice of pizza. Everyone has had a chance to forgive before and will have plenty more.
Forgiveness is widely spoken about, yet it is uncommon in our lives. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things you can do. The strength to reconcile and forgive a person that has caused us pain is not always our first mind. Let’s not sugarcoat things; sometimes we do not even want to forgive others. It is against human will, you have to teach a child to forgive. As adults, you still have to train your mind too. To truly understand what forgiveness is, we need to understand what forgiveness is not.
For starters, forgiveness is not an absence of pain. You can forgive someone yet still feel the scar that has left on your heart. A common misperception is that once you forgive, or attempt to forgive, that all pain, memories, and hurt will seemingly just wash away. This is not true. The pain and scars will still be there yet the sting will be gone. The control that anger has over your emotions and your actions will be gone.
Second, forgiveness is not reconciliation. Forgiveness is not allowing that person or group to come back into your life and keep hurting you. Why return to a place of hurt? Forgiveness is like a rope burning your hands: once it hurts you can let go. You do not have to return.
Lastly, do not confuse forgiveness with redemption or an act of revenge on your behalf. Romans 12:17 says, “Vengeance is mine. I shall repay. Thus says the Lord.” By taking things into your own hands, you are stripping the opportunity for a lesson out of God’s hands. As we take matters into our own hands, we are also putting the burden on ourselves. What we are saying is “God, I do not trust you to deal with this person, so I must deal with this situation as I see just.
With this talk on what forgiveness isn’t, now we can start on what forgiveness truly is: Forgiveness is a pass of control. A pass of the opportunities to seek revenge and thrusting it upon the Lord. Forgiveness is an act of faith. With this letting go of a situation and letting God have control, you are showing our faith that God can handle this better than you ever could. With this shift of powers, you are truly relying on God, and that, in essence, is faith. Forgiveness is letting go of the anger, thoughts of revenge and bitterness that you are holding onto.
So, why should we forgive? One of the most straightforward way of saying this is Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive. But if you do not forgive others for their sins, your father will not forgive your sins.” Badda-bing-badda-boom; it’s that simple. With our goal to live like Jesus and show others the love of God, forgiveness is a requirement for ourselves too. When you hold on to anger it hurts you also. “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:9-12. Save yourself from unnecessary hurt. Just let it go.
Life, as well as Rockhurst, is filled with chances for forgiveness. As we give our trust to others in life that trust will be stolen, which is okay. This just gives us an opportunity to exercise our faith in this way. People come into our lives for two reasons: As a blessing, or as a lesson. For the people or situations that come into our lives as a lesson, we can always choose the right response. No matter what the situation is. Whether that kid stole your pencil or invoked an act of racism, it requires an act of forgiveness. The chances to show God’s love is all around us. Forgiveness is a great way to not only exercise your faith but feel better in the process.