“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me.” Psalm 23:4
As forgiveness is such a difficult task, I am dedicating this week to posts delving into various ways of viewing it. I once shared the following quote of mine on Facebook: “Forgiveness means you walk away from the hurt and into the Light. You leave it in God’s hands and ask Him to send a resolution. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to mistreatment or misery. It just means you can let go and let God, and then be open to resolution when it presents itself!” Because of the number of comments and questions it drew, I decided to offer the following to better explain.
First, know I truly understand how difficult forgiveness can be. I know there is no such thing as just forgive and forget when there is deep hurt or serious consequences surrounding that which needs to be forgiven. Also, please don’t think that I speak from atop a pillar never having experienced hurt or deep disappointment in someone. I have, just as I am sure everyone has.
Second, I believe forgiveness must occur in order to make us whole again. I do know that in order to do so, we must get outside ourselves. For if we continue to focus on our inner hurt, if we continue to focus on what ifs and buts, we will always take one step toward the Light and then retreat right back into the darkness. We will continue to hide in the dark, waiting for the offender to make things right! In order to get outside ourselves we must not let the hurt define who we are. I believe when we are defined by hurt all of our thoughts and actions are a direct result of that very real pain. Then we are no longer in control. It is the hurt that rules our lives.
Third, we must come to terms with the knowledge that we do not control the other person. They may or may not be hurt by the situation themselves, and they may or may not ever come to apologize. They may not even realize they have caused the hurt! We cannot control them, but we can control ourselves. Accepting that we can not control the other person doesn’t mean we do not feel the pain, or that the hurt doesn’t exist. It just means we are now going to be the one in control of it.
Fourth, we cannot do it alone. If the hurt is too deep, it may not be in our power to forgive, or even to control. It is here we must go down on our knees and seek His help, His comfort, His wisdom, His power, to resolve the situation. In doing so, we step from darkness into the Light. We allow God to find the right solution for all. We wait patiently in the Light instead of hiding in the dark.
Last, we open ourselves to the resolution when it presents itself. When we allow God to resolve the situation in His own time, His own Way, we must accept His answer. It may come in the form of an apology, or something else may happen which overrides the situation, something which is more important, more immediate. It may even just be that a feeling of peace comes over us about the whole thing, that somehow we can now live with it; we can let it go. Whatever the outcome, we have to be watchful for it, so as not to be so focused on our hurt that we miss it! For if we miss His resolution, we will return to the darkness.
A perfect place to begin is with the simple desire to forgive. Place your hurt at the foot of the Cross and let His Light pull you through the darkness. Then, walk into the Light sure in the knowledge that all is resolved, all is forgiven through Him.
“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7