Forgiveness is like celebrating Independence Day for your heart and soul. You get that feeling of liberation when you forgive others for the trespasses they have done and for their shortcomings. Forgiveness can vary from being easy to being very difficult, depending on the degree or gravity of the offense committed against someone. Sins and offenses that cause significant damage to our person, our property, reputation and dignity can be devastating and very hard to move on from. Somehow, time has a way of healing even the gravest of wounds and forgiveness can still be found and achieved.
When we were young, the thought or the act of forgiveness was almost never an issue. We may have encountered cheating playmates, mean classmates, schoolmates and even siblings; or mean kids from the other block or the neighborhood. We may have had our cookies or food swiped on more than one occasion by other children our age, but we must admit, we have easily moved on and forgiven those mean kids back in the days. We may still remember the things they did, but they don’t evoke negative emotions and reactions anymore. They become part of our childhood memories.
As we grow older, our ability to forgive seems to lessen and the trespasses against us seem to add up more than what we can manage to forgive. It would be easy to assume that maybe we were not trying hard enough to forgive. Probably, we didn’t. The weight or the gravity of the sin against you can cause you to think twice about forgiving someone. Being abandoned by a parent isn’t the same as being abandoned by a playmate mid-game. The latter can take a few moments to forgive, but the former could take a very long time to digest, understand, forgive and be healed of the heartache it caused. Being a victim of sexual abuse can be scarring for life. Forgiving the perpetrator could be next to impossible. We think that someone so vile and despicable should not deserve our forgiveness for destroying our dignity, lowering our self-worth and self-respect and tarnishing our life. There are so many cases of transgressions that many of us will deem unforgivable.
I have learned through experience the importance of forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t just limited to the religious or faithful. It is an innate human quality. As children, we learned to forgive quickly as a means of survival and of growing up. We become mature as a person when we properly develop our ability to forgive. The word “forgive” essentially means to stop feeling angry or resentful towards. And with the word “stop”, it means to end and to surrender. Most of us have grown up forming the notion of forgiveness as an act that is completed in one sitting. Forgiveness can undergo many stages, many layers, until completed. Time is needed to forgive and heal. Forgiveness is also a journey. As Christians, we must first ask God to forgive us of our sins. Then we should pray to Him and ask Him to help us forgive others. In Colossians 3:13 it says, “And forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.” Ephesians 4:32 reveals, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”