2011 15/11

What does Forgiveness look like?

Forgive and forget.

To err is human; to forgive, divine. — Alexander Pope

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend. — William Blake

There are a lot of wise words said about forgiveness. Some funny ones, too.  But what does it really look like to forgive someone? Is it a universal thing? Or can forgiveness in my life look differently than forgiveness in yours?

This past Sunday one of my favorite pastors {can you have a *favorite* pastor or is that a faux pas, like having a favorite child?} spoke at our church about Forgiveness. Not only is Dan a dynamic speaker, but he finds ways to tell stories that just drive his message right to your heart. And this was so true on Sunday.

Dan told a story about his wife and her path to forgiveness for her step-mom who was quite cold and uncaring toward her all of her life. After his story I thought to myself, I want to forgive like that.

But then the questions came flooding into my brain.

Yes, God calls us to forgive others. For many reasons. To free ourselves of that bitterness. To prevent our hearts from becoming cold and hard toward others. So that we can be open to His forgiveness. I get it. I understand the importance of forgiveness and the risks you run by not forgiving.

In my mind, that seems a lot easier to forgive someone when they admit that what they did was wrong. Or at least acknowledge that they did something wrong.When you are standing there with someone who truly believes they have done nothing wrong, it’s hard to offer them forgiveness. It means nothing to them.

This leads to my next question…How do you forgive someone who continues to do the very thing you are forgiving them for? You step on my foot; I forgive you for stepping on my foot; you continue to step on my foot. Do I continue to forgive you? The logical thing to say here is, don’t let them step on your foot anymore; walk away. But what if you can’t? Not that you don’t want to walk away, but you really can’t? This is someone you have Sunday dinner with or see every holiday? How does forgiveness work then.


And then this leads to my last thing…Is it ok to just walk away? This is the biggest hurdle for me, personally. In my mind, I’ve forgiven this person for what they did to me in the past. But I don’t want anything to do with this person. I make no effort to contact this person and I avoid contact at all costs.  So, have I truly forgiven that person? If I have, shouldn’t I be able to sit in the same room as them? Or can you truly forgive but not forget?

This forgiveness thing is so confusing to me. I don’t want to have a cold heart. I want to be that forgiving person. But I just don’t know what that looks like. For me. In my life. With my circumstances. With my past.

What does forgiveness look like to you? 

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One Comment

  • I don’t have a good answer, but I had a friend who said that forgiving and forgetting are two different things. So yes, forgive over and over if necessary; but you don’t have to stand in the line of fire because you have forgiven someone; you haven’t forgotten. I think forgiving after it’s ALL OVER is one thing; when it’s ongoing you have to stop that person from having access to you sometimes.

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