As thoughts of forgiveness roll through my head for the past several days, I struggle to understand what that is exactly. I must say, I often feel a bit foolish that I don't know, but I suspect that forgiveness is different for each person. But, is that right? Is that what was intended when we were called to forgive?
God forgives and forgets...His model of forgiveness is a perfect one. He sacrificed so much so that he could forgive us, so that we could be cleansed.
I suppose the forget part is where I'm stuck. Something inside of us, I believe, truly does want to forgive. We all want to be accepted and feel accepted...to be loved and feel loved. So, we want to forgive someone that wronged us...we want to get around the hurt that their action caused in us. We want to put it behind us and obey God's calling to forgive. But, how does one forget? Is it human nature to remember it? Is it Satan whispering in our ear to cause turmoil? Is it the victim in us that feels it is easier to keep holding up that hurt than to do the work it takes to allow God to wash it clean?
Is there a limit to the number of times you should forgive a person for an action? I'm struggling with that in both the granting of forgiveness and the asking for it. If a person struggles with anger and needs to humble themselves each time they lose their cool (as they should to make amends), is there a limit to the number of times the "forgiver" needs to address their "I'm sorry"? Or, is the sheer fact that they need to ask forgiveness so many times a sign that the two people just shouldn't interact? Because, if true forgiveness is not granted, the wound will fester...it will grow and build and become such an ugly monster that it will be filled with anger, bitterness and resentment for both parties. One will feel like they are never good enough and the other will feel like they shouldn't have to be bothered. Either way, both parties lose. Bitterness and resentment can only breed a lose-lose situation.
So, it is easy to say the words "I forgive you", but are you willing to take the steps it takes to forget...really forget and to trust? That's probably the hardest of the steps to take.
Our hearts want so badly to guard against hurt...we all hate to be wounded, we hate to feel unloved or unaccpeted. So, we will either hand that over for redemption or we will carry it around with us to cause us further pain down the road. Often, I don't think the latter is a conscious choice...just one that seems to happen. It is sad that words sometimes can be so hurtful that we don't know quite how to process them...one or two words can cause instant anger, hurt, love, or joy, depending on how they are delivered and what the circumstance is....something to be aware of in the process, I guess.
I suppose it is never too late to assess a situation and give it over. Sometimes, these things just take time and lots of conscious efforts (however small) and baby steps...everyone's timeline is different, I suppose.