The world is not always kind. And, if we live long enough on this fallen planet someone will break our hearts in a million pieces. We will all be confronted with the question, Will I choose to forgive?
Sometimes, we can say yes with some resistance, but there are other times when the offense is so deep—so layered with devastating and ongoing consequences that our hemorrhaging hearts have no idea how to heal no less move towards forgiveness.
In my own journey of forgiveness, it felt counterintuitive to let go of the person whose actions took the life of my son. I’ve come to know that forgiving was for the preservation of my own heart, and it was worth the wrestling with and eventual surrender to God because it has ultimately set me free.
Sometimes, God asks us to do a hard thing because it is for our healing. However, the process has felt like a journey of 1,000 miles through quicksand. Yet, God has carried, comforted, and closely held my heart.
Forgiveness, says that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was enough, and we are releasing our transgressor to the court system if warranted, and more importantly to God for Him in His divine wisdom to administer His justice.
Forgiveness never means we overlook or justify the transgression. What was wrong is still wrong.
Forgiveness is a choice, but in most cases it is an ongoing process. The memories and feelings surrounding the hurtful act don’t miraculously dissipate. For me, certain triggers such as anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays brought back pain and intense feelings of anger that had to be acknowledged, dealt with, and surrendered. With each year that passes, the feelings surrounding the tragic loss of my son don’t have the same gripping hold on my life.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we are called to be in relationship with the person who hurt us. Every circumstance begs for the wisdom of God.
Dear sister, has your heart been shattered in a million pieces because of the brokenness of another human being? First, I say I’m deeply sorry. And secondly, I gently suggest that you let God bear the burden of this offense.
Forgive. Trust His process. God knows best. Let Him have it, let Him heal you, and let Him set your heart free, to breathe, to live, to dance, and to find joy again.
Together, let’s meditate on the words of this prayer. May the words fall afresh, giving us peace and a new perspective:
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.
Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.
Enemies have loosed me from earth more than friends have…
Enemies have made me a hunted animal, finding safer shelter than an unhunted animal does.
I found safest sanctuary in You…may too my enemies-made-grace.
I found greatest grace in You… may my enemies-made-grace find Your generous grace alive and radical in me.
I found fullest forgiveness in You… may my enemies-made-grace find faith and freedom in You and Your forgiveness working surprising ways in me.
The longer I walk with you, Lord, I find I have no enemies: only your gift of chisels etching me deep.
Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. (Ann Voscamp)
Author: Maryanne Abbate