Forgiveness is a tough subject to approach for people.
It’s hard to offer forgiveness when someone has lied to you, cheated on you, molested you. It’s hard to forgive fathers who left, mothers who abused you, siblings who mistreated you.
It’s easy to wrap up forgiveness in a neat little saying and remind the other person in the middle of their nightmare to forgive those who have hurt them. Sometimes we do this by telling them, “Forgiveness is for you—not them!” And, as true as that is, sometimes in the trenches it feels like forgiveness is surrendering to the enemy.
I want to offer this gentle reminder whenever you see someone struggling to forgive someone who has hurt them, sometimes it is okay to just walk beside them. It’s okay to encourage them in forgiveness when their heart is a little less raw. Be sensitive when encouraging people to forgive so that they can receive what you are saying to them.
I personally find one of the most difficult verses in the Bible to be when Jesus tells us to forgive others. But I have learned this—Jesus is always right. He is not only the ultimate answer but He knows all the answers. But I want to breakdown what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.
Forgiveness is not letting someone walk all over you and staying defenseless. Forgiveness is not staying in abusive situations. Forgiveness is not letting those who sexually abused you watch your children.
Forgiveness is walking away without seeking vengeance—justice, however, is not vengeance (after all, we serve a just God). Forgiveness is removing the other person’s power over you so you can move on with your life in a healthy way. Forgiveness is praying for them and those around them. Forgiveness is praying that God shows you how to walk out the process of loving them the way He does (even when that means at a very far, safe distance).
I’m not telling you to be reckless and reintroduce into your life people who are toxic. God gave us discernment and we ought to use it. I am, however, telling you that forgiveness is something that will help you in growing beyond your pain into someone who is becoming all God intended.
Forgiveness is the fertilizer God uses to help the flowers of joy, stability, hope, and love grow in the garden of our hearts.
Walking through trauma, betrayal, and abuse is a layered thing. You will have to walk through the anger, the bitterness, the hurt, and then through forgiveness. I once saw a therapist who said, “Don’t rush the process. Don’t be so focused on forgiving that you forget to let yourself feel.”
It is okay to feel all the things you feel. You just only feel them for a season. Then, the season of forgiveness will come about and I want to encourage you not to let that season go to waste. Forgiveness opens up grace upon grace. To quote the musical Hamilton, “There’s a grace to powerful to name.” That grace is forgiveness.