In Fractured Into Wholeness, I dug deeply into the process of forgiveness. I don’t want to repeat what I’ve previously shared, but a five-year check-in wouldn’t be complete without reflections on forgiveness.
It’s a process. Forgiveness is consistently tested with pop quizzes. I rarely expect the quiz. It comes from the oddest places at unexpected times. But I appreciate the chronic quizzes. They keep me in check.
It didn’t take me long to choose forgiveness after the crisis, but my persistent choices either erode or strengthen the forgiveness over time. I am still learning what healthy forgiveness is and what it isn’t. I can tell you three things for sure: (1) Forgiveness is difficult. (2) Forgiveness is beautiful. (3) Forgiveness is humbling.
Forgiveness isn’t dependent on someone else’s behavior or words. Forgiveness isn’t dependent on a relationship status. For example, my ex chose to sever all ties. I haven’t heard an apology or admission of wrongdoing, except a couple comments surrounded by rationalizations and excuses. While that added hurt, it was the reality in front of me. If my forgiveness was dependent on another person’s behavior, benchmarks, or specific situations, it would stall. If it was dependent on personally extending the forgiveness or knowing it was accepted, it would stall.
Forgiveness isn’t selfish. We don’t do it for ourselves despite the common advice and cute phrases that tell us forgiveness is primarily to free ourselves from anything that chains us to a harmful situation. Healthy forgiveness can’t be easily defined because of it’s chronic process and application. To forgive well, we need to rely on the source of forgiveness, and nobody does it better than God.
I know, pointing to God can seem frustrating, because it feels unspecific to some people. So, let me tell you how I try to apply forgiveness in daily life.
- If forgiveness doesn’t draw me closer to God, I might be clouding his intentions. I might not understand why he’s prompting me in one way or another, but my trust overshadows my concerns. I know his ways are better than mine. He understands forgiveness to depths and heights I will never reach. But that doesn’t stop me from pursuing.
- If I choose forgiveness in the little things every day, the discipline strengthens me for the bigger things. It’s the only reason I’ve been able to choose forgiveness through the worst hurt of my life.
- I can only continue into forgiveness if I’m fully authentic with God and myself. And that’s not easy, so woven into it is the willingness to constantly be corrected and challenged to grow.
Give it a try today. It might not feel like the right fit at times, but keep at it. It’s a long term process, and it is worth it.