Why is it that when we speak of forgiveness it is so difficult ? Uttering the words “forgive me” or “I forgive you,” for that matter, is like uttering a four letter word. Is forgiveness really the worst word we can say? Can it really lead to horrible consequences?
The middle school where I work recently had an assembly for our students on the power of forgiveness. I couldn’t wait for the kids to hear the message the presenters were about to share, since teenagers can hold onto a grudge for what seems like forever. Secretly I was praying that it would touch a few of “my kids” who struggle with an array of difficult relationships.
As each speaker told their story, in an auditorium full of over 600 people, you could have heard a pin drop. Each student was hanging on to every word our guests spoke. Surely this was touching them and THEY were getting the message. What I didn’t expect was how it would affect me, to the point of being brought to uncontrollable tears. What was it about the topic they were speaking of that had stirred such an outburst of emotion? There was nothing that I could immediately recall that had been bothering me. I really had no idea what it was.
As I enter a new season of my life I have had to reflect on all my experiences and take inventory of a number of situations that have happened throughout the years that have clearly caused me to hold onto ill feelings. This is surely where it all stemmed from. When someone hurts you or you hurt someone, it is difficult not to be upset or mad and in turn harbor that resentment. Even when you think you may have moved on, it may just be buried so deep you thought you had forgotten, until something/someone drags it to the surface. The flood of emotions I felt that day were surrounding these circumstances and it washed over me like an ocean wave crashing upon the shore. It truly rattled my soul! Here it all was, out in the open and I finally had to own it.
Later that evening I stepped out in faith to start to tell the people in my life, “I forgive you.” It wasn’t easy, but I did it! Most importantly I had to forgive myself for any hurt I had caused even if I didn’t intend to harm or wasn’t even sure it actually caused harm. The way it made me feel was reason enough. It was clearly still eating away at me, therefore I had to forgive ME! As a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a woman… it’s not the easiest thing to do. But it is absolutely necessary.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest matters you will ever have to tend to. In turn, as Stephen McDonald states, “It is one of the most beautiful expressions of love.” I had to make a choice and let love prevail!! Love for these situations and what they have taught me. Love for the persons who knowingly or unknowingly inflicted the pain. And ultimately I had to love myself enough to want closure and to allow these wounds to heal fully and for always. In that, my heart is no longer heavy and I am free!
Forgiveness really is a four letter word and that word is LOVE! Love conquers all and love prevails.