Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Forgiveness. I have been forgiven therefore I shall forgive, right? I sometimes struggle with forgiving people. Usually for me it is easy to forgive, but a few times I have had to pray and pray for God’s grace and help me to let go and forgive. I do not forgive because it is good for the other person, they may not even know I had a grievance about them, it is for the health of my own soul that I must forgive. I always think of it in terms of gunk, filth, or garbage that litters my heart and soul. The anger, hurt, frustration, that tends to build up and we carry it around. It is weighing you down, you may not notice, but when you let go of it for good you feel a breath of fresh air in your soul. It’ll be like someone opened the window and let out all the stale air. You do not forgive for the sake of the other person, you forgive for the sake of your own survival.
I recently saw someone that inspired me to write about forgiveness. Many years ago, his father came to my father for help. My dad was reluctant to help him because he was very busy, but the man insisted so he eventually did. Things did not go according to how the man had wanted, so he threatened to sue my dad. My dad sought legal counsel and learned the other man had no basis, or evidence, that would warrant a law suit. It was all gossip and empty threats. My dads business was hurt for a while, but eventually it picked back up to the pace it was at originally. This other man had been damaged, but it would seem he has recovered since his business appears to once again be thriving. This was a dark and terrible time for my family. For my dad, who had been doing his job for 30 years at that point, without any incident, it made him reconsider his faith in the gift he has. I got tired of the endless gossip, people prying and asking questions. I was angry, but not as much as my older sister. She would go on a rampage defending my father and tarnishing the other mans name, which was what that man was doing to my father. So I prayed. My mom prayed, and probably countless others who relied on my dad and trusted him. After the dust settled, my dads business started to get vandalized. I often suspected the other man’s children as he had two sons, that were the same age as me. I don’t have any proof, but it was what I felt in my heart.
I don’t think about this other man any more, and I don’t know if my sister does, but I do know that I have forgiven what was done and I no longer have to spend any time on it. It doesn’t concern me at all. It occurred to me the other day though, that he doesn’t feel the same. I ran into one of his sons and he shot me a terribly awful look. This isn’t the first encounter I have had with him, and it is usually the same. He still hates me and my family, and the emotion raw as if it happened yesterday. Instead of being angry at him, which would start the cycle over, I feel sad for him. The hurt and anger has rusted his soul. He blames me and my family still to this day for what happened to his dad, and I can’t do anything to rectify it or make it better, but I do prayfor him. He has no idea the freedom he would feel if he could just let it go.
Letting go isn’t easy, especially if forgiveness isn’t a muscle you have used before. But like any muscle, you practise, start with a smaller weight, and once it easy for you to lift the smaller weight you go up in size until you finally have reached your goal. It’ll take patience, and transgressions you thought you let go of will surface again, and you will have to pray about it and forgive them all over again. But I promise you this, it is worth it. If you feel bitterness remember, you aren’t forgiving for the good of the other person’s involved, you are forgiving because it is good FOR YOU.