I remember, as a child –and hm, probably until very recently, when my sister and I had an argument, the utmost threat was: “I will never speak to you again”. We then would each go to a corner of the house, while my poor mom went from one to the other, trying to understand what had led to such a dramatic, definite rupture in our relationship.
We both strongly defended our arguments, firmly believing that we were on the offended side, and trying to get mom to support our cause. After patiently listening for a while, Mom generally came to the same conclusion: “You need to forgive your sister.” Oh, she wasn’t ignoring the harm that was done. Occasionally, one of us needed to be punished or to repair. Deep down, I knew she only advised me to do what God had asked in such situation. And frankly, my whole sense of justice balked at the thought. What? Should I let my sister get away so easily?
It usually took a while –depending on how much we wanted to punish the other, and a few offended looks to mark our statement, before my sister and I came to our senses and apologized. To be honest, I think we concluded a give and take agreement more than anything else –the “You apologize, I apologize” kind. Still, I believe God rooted forgiveness very early on in our lives, which I am SO thankful for.
But it’s only these past months that I have come to understand, with the Holy Spirit’s help, how vital forgiveness is. I realized that, when we don’t forgive, it’s as if we were tied to the person who offended us by a sort of hook. To me, that sounds rather bleak, because it would mean that we constantly relive and churn on what has happened. So it sounds like forgiveness could in fact be of interest to us!
I also became aware that, when somebody offends us, our first reaction is often to protect ourselves, by building up a wall. That may look like shouting back, avoiding the person or criticizing. But it comes down to the same thing.
Like my mom, by asking us to forgive, God doesn’t minimize anything. He is only giving us a nudge to release in His hands what has happened, including the offender, in our own time. That’s when His Father’s love comes in. He knows better. How about that exchange?!
I am so thankful for every time God has helped me to forgive. Even in the moments when we feel so helpless, or when there seemed to be no way out, I have found that being willing to forgive is like allowing God’s power to come straight into the situation. Then, comes the joy to be free from the hurt, to realize we have grown, even to discern the work of the enemy. It’s such a feeling to see God at work in our lives!
Prayer: Forgive, forgive, forgive. Father, it’s not a word that I always want to hear. But you know what’s best for me. Holy Spirit, show me who and what I need to forgive. Help me not to hold anything back from you, but to release every offence, hurt and offender in your hands. Thank you Lord!