I’ve been talking a lot about my sin and how I’m working toward forgiving certain people in my life, but I’ve been wondering if any of you who read my blog want to forgive someone in your life too. Maybe you feel as if you have forgiven certain people in your life, but still have trouble whenever you are around them or think of them. Or maybe you truly feel you’ve forgiven certain people, but they continue to offend you again and again. Or maybe you don’t want to forgive because you feel it will send the wrong message to your offender or even feel that they don’t deserve it. And, last but not least, maybe you simply don’t know how to forgive. The reality is that forgiveness is a much misunderstood and mismanaged issue, and I’d like to clear up some of the confusion.
What are some of the misunderstood issues surrounding forgiveness? The first misconception/truth is; forgiveness is not just a decision, it is a process. Of course, it starts with a decision, but it’s like trying to get from St. Louis to New York City–you have to travel through a lot of places before you reach your destination. However, that analogy isn’t totally complete either since forgiveness isn’t simply a “destination.” Perhaps this analogy works better: forgiveness is similar to the continual, daily duty of brushing your teeth (Mt. 18:21-22). If you only brushed your teeth one time when you were five years old and expected that you would never get a cavity the rest of your life, you would only be kidding yourself. It’s the same with forgiveness. Just accept the fact that it is a process that must be repeated over and over again. Let your emotions be your alarm, warning you as to how often you need to process through the pain again. How can it be “processed,” you ask? That will be answered in my next post, “What Forgiveness Is and Isn’t – Truth #2,” so stay tuned!