Forgiveness is a critical part of the healing process. While it is ideal to forgive someone as soon as possible, it’s never too late. I have found that once I have extended forgiveness, I feel so much more at peace. It is an action (and attitude) that I never regret.
Within Judaism, forgiving three times is adequate for showing forgiveness, so Peter seems to think he’s being generous when he suggests seven times. However, Jesus instructs Peter to forgive seventy-seven times, which is essentially forgiving without keeping count. True disciples of Jesus should be “living in forgiveness” just as Christ daily forgives us.
Are we able to genuinely forgive someone of their offenses without prayer and trust in God? Sometimes, the offenses are so great that we need God’s strength and peace to help move us beyond the pain and to the point of forgiveness.
As ambassadors of Christ, we must reach out to those who have strayed from God and bring them back. Are we doing this as a Church? Are we forgiving those who have hurt us and drifted from God, just as God would do for us?
My favorite verse in the Bible is “Come.” (Matthew 14:29) Peter walked on water, but his fear sank him. I wonder if Peter was more afraid of imperfection than the wind. Although I don’t see this command again in the Gospels, the Lord continued to invite Peter to come with Him in every way and until the very end.
I was learning how to forgive others who I felt had harmed me. I am still learning. I will always be learning. But it took years after my “five-year pilgrimage of forgiveness” to finally be willing to look at my part and how the decisions I made had set me up for heartache.
So….two weeks turned into five years. I wish forgiveness was a short and direct route but, like pure grieving, I have learned that the deepest of forgiveness has to “have its way with me.” And if this deep-seated hurt was my life lesson in embracing forgiveness, it felt like embracing a porcupine.
A long time ago, several friends shared a story with me that I’ve read many times over throughout the years. In the story, a clergyman had offered a tangible solution to someone who had experienced a long running resentment that seemed impossible to overcome.
Many years ago, while existing in complete darkness, a “friend” told me that I was a very unforgiving person. I never forgot her words. They planted a seed that remained in the dark for many years. What I know now is that I cannot embrace if I refuse or am unable to first acknowledge and accept that forgiveness and healing is needed.
Yesterday, we discussed repentance and how it was a necessary step for forgiveness to follow. I also mentioned that our culture even recognizes this in our relationships. If one does not apologize, there is seemingly no reason to forgive, right?
We discussed briefly on the first day that repentance is a vital step in the forgiveness process. As I stated in the post that day, both repentance and forgiveness go hand-in-hand (like transformation and forgiveness). You can’t have one without the other.
To achieve a perfect and unshakable understanding of forgiveness, one must also undergo a transformation of the spirit and soul. Before all of you run away from this challenge, know first that complete transformation will not be attained in this life.
Now that the theme for the season of Lent is now established, it is time to begin the journey of figuring out what that means. What impact does forgiveness have on our lives? How does one forgive? Why does it have to take this long?
Lent is not just about digging up our deep sinfulness and giving up chocolate. At the forefront of this extraordinary season there is a theme of forgiveness. While repentance is very much a part of Lent too, forgiveness is what is at the other end.