Remember when you were a kid and your parents would tell you, “You need to apologize to so and so and ask for forgiveness?” Or maybe on the other side, your friend would say (after being prompted), “I’m sorry for not sharing, will you please forgive me?” Of course, you would each say “yes” and the whole squabble would be forgotten.
But as we get older, the squabbles get more serious and it seems to get harder and harder to forgive. Maybe, a friend spread nasty rumors about you and hurt your reputation; or maybe a teacher gave you a grade lower than you deserved; or maybe you got overlooked for a role. How do we forgive when the situation really hurts?
According to dictionary.com the definition of forgiveness is, to grant pardon to OR to cease to feel resentment against. When I was little, I remember telling myself “Yes, I forgive so and so, I really do.” Yet, somehow, the twinge of hurt wouldn’t go away even if I decided to forgive. Even if my brain said I was forgiving someone, my heart wasn’t responding.
Recently, I’ve learned that forgiveness isn’t something that we do but something that God does in us. Try as we may, no matter how many times our brain tell us we are forgiving someone, until the seed of bitterness is rooted out of our hearts, we are not truly forgiving.
Acknowledging that we cannot forgive on our own strength is another aspect of surrendering to God. It’s recognizing our weakness; admitting that only because He forgave us, can we forgive others. It’s opening our hearts to God and allowing Him to do the work.
Forgiveness is a process, a heart issue that needs fixing; something we initiate and God finishes. It’s more than just a decision or an apology and until we open our hearts and allow Him to work, we can’t truly forgive. Eventually, that twinge of bitterness will be replaced with the peace of God and our brains and hearts will be on the same page.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. ~Eph. 1:7-8a