Forgiveness – A Choice and A Process

Dear God,

Something came to my heart and I felt a strong desire to write it down in my journal. Lately the word “forgiveness” has been running through my head, and specifically towards a someone who stole my God-given innocence many years ago.  It has been a long process, but I just couldn’t get this out of my head. Is it because it’s a process of mending relationships? Realizing that we as people have our faults and fail on a day-to-day basis? Forgiveness is an every day thing, big or small, and it plays a huge role in all of our relationships. If I could actually grasp the concept and the true identity of forgiveness then just think about how much easier loving people would be. There is so much love to be given, and yet it’s masked with the bitterness and anger that we carry around as baggage. It does not take away pain, or undo the done, but it’s a process, and it’s a choice…

Thoughts on Forgiveness:

First of all there is no such thing as “forgive and forget”. It is impossible for us as humans to do, and those principles are usually taken completely out of context in the bible. My “Someone” is a lost boy and as a believer I should not turn my back on him. The love of Christ that he will see and feel through me (after sinning against me and hurting me terribly) might be the only thing possible for him to find the right path. And I may only be able to maintain positive feelings about him due to the grace of God, but that’s okay.

Second, forgiveness is not a “one time” thing that we do and then move on. True forgiveness is an attitude. Forgiveness does not involve “excusing the act.” In fact, forgiveness is about the inexcusable. Forgiveness does not involve turning a blind eye toward sin, or ignoring or denying it, or even pretending it didn’t happen. That type of response would be indulging in sin rather than dealing with it through the work of forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting to remember—it means remembering to forget. I will remember the offenses, probably every time I see that “someone”.  But when I declare, “I forgive you” I am really saying that I am committing myself NOT to treat “someone” on the basis on what he has done, even though I remember very well what it was. Time is likely to dull the pain, but it is unlikely to ever completely erase the memory.

Third, forgiveness involves both choice and a process. I have made the choice, and now I am involved in the process. The first step in forgiving anyone is by dealing with the sin honestly. I still am confronting the sins committed against me, however Luke 17: 3 says “if your brother or sister sins, rebuke them and IF they repent, forgive them.” The goal of confrontation is to bring about repentance, then forgiveness, then restoration/reconciliation. True forgiveness really requires “someone” to “own” the sins committed against me and to repent of those sins. True repentance goes beyond/deeper than an apology or expression of regret. The biblical definition of repentance describes a change of mind that produces a change of direction. Repentance is more than a feeling of wrongdoing or regret and more than just an apology. Without repentance the process of forgiveness is broken. True forgiveness flows toward true repentance. If “someone” has truly repented (which I’m not certain) then it is more than understandable that I want to forgive and be reconciled with him. And my feeling of that is a reflection of Christ’s love shining through me.

Fourth, Jesus requires us to forgive the repentant. To forgive is to win one’s brother, to reclaim him from the bondage of sin…right? It basically means to release the desire to “get even” or the “right” to require him to pay for what he has done (and specifically done to me).

Fifth, I have to remember that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness is given. Reconciliation is earned. Forgiveness and reconciliation are related, but quite distinct. Forgiveness cancels all debts, but does not eliminate all consequences of it. To be reconciled with my “someone”, they must demonstrate a clear and convincing way that over time they have has changed their attitude and mind about the sins committed against me. They are not to be trusted until his actions reflect his repentant words.

Forgiveness is ultimately an act of the will, not a stirring of emotions. For a flower of Christ, it is a choice to obey God and let it go. So when I say “I forgive you” I have to promise myself to not rehearse in my mind the evil that occurred, and declare that the issue between us is dead. When the painful memories, surface (which they do and always will), I promise myself to take it to the Lord and lay it at the foot of the cross.   C.S. Lewis says “to forgive for the moment is not difficult, but go on forgiving, to forgive that same offense every time it recurs to the memory- that’s the real tussle.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes said “forgiveness has many layers, many seasons. The important part of forgiveness is to begin and to continue. The finishing work of it all is a life work.”

The bible says “God can restore what the locus has eaten.” No matter where I am or what has happened, I am not damaged goods and I am a very special and precious child in His sight. God will use my pain to refine and strengthen me and to sharpen me and to give me compassion and understanding so that he can use me in a mighty way down the road. I just have to trust for now, that God is in control and he has a plan. I cannot let Satan let me suffer twice for the same evil—first what happened to me and what was done against me, and second by hardening my heart towards God.

God works in mysterious ways. A friend told me that taking a step back these last few weeks would be good for us (not pertaining to this) but by doing that I have been able to really focus on myself and fix the things that were going on my life and refocus. Little did I know God would lay this all on my heart and really make me face the facts. This situation took a toll on me these last few months and I was looking for an “out” in all the wrong places. Made me become someone I was not and dependent and needy upon others. It ruined relationships with friends, parents, and even people I cared about in other ways and potentially love. If only I had taken a step back and listened and wasn’t so stubborn, I could have stayed true to myself.

Thank you God, for giving me this opportunity and for the man (who I admire so much) for telling me to “chill”, even though he has things he has to figure out as well. Without that, I don’t know if I would have ever come to this realization. Relationships take work, and the most important one is between you and I. My family, that ‘someone’, my love life, and my friends will all fall into place once if I stay true to the person I know and the woman you have created me to be. I will fail you and others on multiple occasions, but I ask for your forgiveness in that, it’s a process and its one I’m willing to take head on. I love you.

Love,  A Forgiving Victim

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