Forgiveness is hard, but you don’t realize how difficult it can be until you’re the one that needs to forgive. It’s so much easier to instruct someone to forgive, or to ask for forgiveness, than to be the one to forgive. I never understood this until I needed to forgive for past hurts. I didn’t realize how much my unforgiveness was poisoning my relationship with these individuals.
I tried to forgive them on my own and failed miserably. I prayed for help, but I still couldn’t forgive them. A year passed and I continued to pray off and on – really hoping for a magical cure-all that would fix everything. That didn’t happen. I prayed again, but this time I questioned if I really meant what I said. Did I truly desire to forgive, or did I want to hold on to the past forever?
More time passed, a few months I think, and I forgot about my prayer. Then, last night, I watched a movie for my Film Noir class at school. This movie was about a man who murdered little girls and how the people sought to find and kill him in the worst way possible rather than turn him over to the police. I found myself agreeing with the citizens who were crying out for justice, when it hit me: If this were a true story, how could I rectify the fact that Jesus died for that man too?
Jesus offers his forgiveness to all, even the worst and hardened criminals. Moreover, he gives us the command to forgive those who sin against us. Even if they never try to make things right with us or apologize. This led me to put myself into the shoes of the mothers whose daughters had been murdered. If I were them, could I forgive this unrepentant murderer? Could I love him like Jesus loves even the worst of us?
No, I can’t.
But Jesus can. And he can love him through me.
That’s when I realized something else. The first step to forgiveness is to be willing to forgive. I finally understand that to truly forgive, then I must be willing to forgive those who have wronged me. Second, I need to make myself available. This means that I need to make myself available to do whatever God is instructing me to do – like going the extra mile for someone or doing or saying something nice instead of allowing spiteful feelings to reign in my heart. Lastly, I need to be obedient. After I have become willing and available to the voice of God, I must now obey what he has told me to do.
I must be willing to forgive.
I must be available to forgive.
And I need to be obedient to forgive.
Forgiveness isn’t easy at first, but we don’t have to do it alone. God can and will help us. We just need to be willing, available, and obedient.
A Plan & A Purpose