If you’ve lived any length of time, you will have the opportunity to forgive. It isn’t the easiest thing about life.
As we approach Christmas Day, many will be exchanging gifts. Sometimes there are gifts you can’t wrap and put under the tree. To forgive someone is a gift that is priceless and it is worth doing.
I wish I could do a better job at being quick to forgive. It’s hard. When we are hurt or wronged, we want the other person to pay for what they have done. Time is an enemy of forgiveness. When something is not forgiven, it often turns into a grudge and roots continue to grow deeper inside of us. It’s difficult to let things go.
If there is someone you are estranged with, make the effort and give the gift of forgiveness. It won’t be easy and it won’t always be a feel good moment. Forgiveness does you as much good as it does the other person. Don’t wait until someone is on their deathbed before you decide to forgive. That’s cheap forgiveness. Forgive while you still have the opportunity to redeem the lost time.
For most of my adult life, I was estranged from my parents. We couldn’t seem to agree on how I should live my life. We would try to reconcile but unresolved issues always came up to cause problems. My mother went to her grave holding her grudge. My dad reconciled with me during the last months of his life. Yeah, it still upsets me. It never had to be this way.
Forgiving isn’t always perfect or neat. It’s one thing to forgive but it’s another when you try to get past the offense. It takes time and patience. Sometimes you can ask someone to forgive you and they might refuse to accept it. That’s hard. In those cases, you can only do your part in forgiveness. You can’t force the other party to accept. Just be patient. Sometimes it takes time for it to sink it or sometimes it may never be returned. It may never be quick with tears and a hug.
We are too easily able to simply write people off. If they hurt us, we shut them out of our lives. That’s sad. Sometimes the offense is a misunderstanding or assumption that was made. There are also times when the hurt is legitimate. There are some things that are difficult to forgive. The problem with unforgiveness – whether it is legitimate or not – is that it becomes a dark place inside of you. Unless you deal with it, it will be a problem with other relationships you have. Trust is hard to achieve again. Offenses from one person becomes an assumption against others.
Don’t let forgiveness take root inside of you. Be willing to forgive – and if you are the offending party – be willing to ask for forgiveness.
I have had relationships in my life when it was a forgiveness standoff. One side was waiting for the other side to make the first move. That’s so ridiculous and frustrating because all that this does is waste time. Time is lost because of pride in waiting for the other side to make a move to forgiveness. Some people hold onto the anger and bitterness because they feel like it punishes the other party. Our bitterness keeps the other party on the hook.
The Bible says that, if possible, as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Honestly I don’t know how it is possible for someone to forgive some things such as child abuse or other vile things that happen in our world. It’s not always easy or possible.
We also shouldn’t assume it isn’t possible in order to avoid the unpleasant step in forgiveness. If there is something that we should be good at doing, it is to be good at forgiving. We have many opportunities to do it. From the woman opening her car door and dinging my car to the years-long severed relationship with a relative. It’s never easy but doing so doesn’t make you a weak person. We should certainly deal with the issues and hold people accountable when it is possible but also look for the common ground and way to forgiveness. There isn’t a statute of limitations for forgiveness.
I will also tell you a secret, people always say “forgive and forget” but you won’t magically forget the offense when you forgive. It isn’t possible to suddenly have something erased from your memory but forgiving and forgetting means that you don’t continue to hold that offense against someone or remind them of it. This is the hardest part of forgiveness.
Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ into the world. God sent Him here as a way to repair our relationship with Him and forgiveness for our sin. If God cared enough about forgiveness to send us Jesus, shouldn’t it be important that we give the gift of forgiveness to others?