The following is an excerpt from the new release, Fractured Into Wholeness, available on Amazon in print and ebook formats.
We often want to highlight the personal benefits forgiveness has for us:
- To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that prisoner is you.
- The first to forgive is the strongest.
- Forgive not because the other person deserves forgiveness but because you deserve peace.
- Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
- Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the other person’s behavior but prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.
True forgiveness cannot be conditional. My forgiveness does not depend on my ex’s apology, behavior, or response. If it did, I would still be waiting, hanging onto burdensome weight and bitterness. The choice of forgiveness is deeply personal and generously sacrificial. Forgiveness is an ongoing attitude, like kindness, compassion, and patience. As the attitude invades our thoughts, it seeps out through our actions. Forgiveness in its purest form—and as God intends and models—is something we carry into each moment not simply something we grant after an offense.
The Bible says God will forgive us as we forgive others, but forgiving with the goal of getting God’s forgiveness in return is narrow-minded. It is similar to doing good with the primary goal of storing up treasures in heaven, to which the Bible also refers but does not set as the ultimate goal for doing good.
Forgiveness is a gift—an underserved gift—that has far reaching blessings among people and within our hearts, minds, and souls. Forgiveness is like wind—difficult to see but impossible not to feel.
Forgiveness is redemptive love. It is grace in practice. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past but it does broaden the future. Forgiveness helps us move forward and grow, looping back to heal and reconcile what will be valued in our future while also letting go of what needs to stay in the past. Forgiveness doesn’t forget everything but, as we trust God to filter, we remember the truths that challenge and refine us, and we lay aside what God declares as out-of-season. When we keep what wasn’t intended for a new season, we invite rot to infect even the most beautiful things in our lives.
I watched the effects of this very thing. I was a casualty. When my ex allowed what was rotting in his life to sit in the darkness for too long without attending to it, the stench became too much. The only response seemed to be to throw out much more than the core culprits. And he lost some beautiful people and relationships in the purging process.
Reflecting on the journey up to this point, I cannot separate forgiveness and redemption. God has used every step of forgiveness as redemption. He challenged me to forgive when I wanted to hang on a little longer. He spurred me to put out feelers of repair and reconciliation and blessed me with clear answers in return. He revealed bits and pieces of what small things I was clenching in my fist. Most importantly, He taught me how to trust Him for forgiveness, and He took me deeper in our relationship. Forgiveness, healing, and redemption revealed God’s character to me and made me more authentic—because the more completely we know God, the more authentically we become who He created us to become.