Have you ever experienced the paradox of wanting to forgive someone but still getting mad every time you think about them and what they did to you? Maybe you see yourself as a forgiving person except for that one person back in high school who was awful to you. Or maybe it was that ex-spouse who claimed to love you but betrayed you. What do you do with that pain?
We have repeated over and over that God’s forgiveness forges the path to soul healing. Part of that soul healing is of course receiving the gift of forgiveness from God. That gift aligns your soul up with who God created you to be. The New Testament calls this act Grace. God’s Grace is never meant to be kept for you yourself. It is to spill out of you into the world. That is often done through the forgiveness of the people who have wounded you, sinned against you, and injured you. However, forgiveness is not just a one-time event within human relationships. Forgiveness is an embodied lifestyle, formed by the habits of forgiveness.
If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, be encouraged. Forgiveness does not happen overnight. For human beings, forgiveness is a process. The first step of that process is the acknowledgement of the hurt itself. What happened to you? How did someone harm you? How did you harm yourself or sin against yourself (the hardest people to forgive are often our own selves)? After acknowledging the hurt, the next step would then be to lament over that hurt. What did that event do to your soul, mind, or body? The Psalms are full of laments, and many of them deal with “enemies” triumphing or gloating over the writer. What is the writer doing when he writes these? The writer is bringing this concern to God! That’s the most appropriate place to go when another human harms us and has caused soul pain. Next blog we will continue the process of forgiveness.