You know the person I’m talking about.
The other day I stumbled upon someone on social media who I hadn’t thought about in quite a while. In that moment, my stomach churned.
In an instant, the feelings and the hurt boiled up to the surface of my heart again. Every offense of theirs came back to my mind, just like it happened all over again, and lemme tell ya – I felt absolutely furious.
Two years ago, I worked so hard to get this person off my mind. I prayed about it a lot. I had even tried to reconcile by writing them a long letter, to which I received an empty response. I worked so hard to hand the grudge I had held so tightly to God. To let it go. To get rid of it. To forget.
As I struggled to get them out of my head and forgive, over and over, I was given this advice: “don’t waste your time thinking about someone who doesn’t think about you for one second.” I was advised to simply stop caring – to “forgive and forget.” Pretty much everything in the book that we’re told when we struggle to forgive someone. I took all this advice to heart. And suddenly, it worked – I stopped thinking about them.
Yet, years down the road, the second I scrolled past their photo online, my blood boiled. Why?
To forget about that person, I just buried them in the back of my mind and swallowed my pain. To stop caring, I pushed the grudge deep inside my heart until I couldn’t feel it anymore. To forgive them – wait, I hadn’t forgiven them.
I may have forgotten about them, but I never forgave them.
To be honest, I wish I hadn’t taken all that advice to heart because it did not tackle the real issue here.
Humans are imperfect. People hurt people. We have all hurt someone and been hurt by someone. And if we’re honest, we’ve all struggled to forgive someone. God already knows this. He sees us.
God is teaching me the importance of giving myself time to truly reflect and truly forgive. We all get hurt. Just like someone has hurt you in the past, you have also hurt someone at some point in your life. It’s ok to give yourself time to navigate through and feel your pain. It is ok to let yourself reflect for some time. It is how we deal with our pain and reflection that can be sinful – I’m learning God gives us the grace to navigate through our feelings of anger and bitterness – but we must share it with God. After we’ve reflected with the Lord, after we’ve felt our pain with the Lord, it is our duty to forgive – and He will give us the power to do so.
Forgetting about that person two years ago didn’t cure the hurt in my heart. And because of this, remembering them the other day opened those wounds back up to more pain.
Forgetting only works for a moment. Forgiveness frees you for a lifetime.
Forgetting does not equal forgiveness. Reconciliation does not equal forgiveness.
Forgiveness is divine. Forgiveness trumps bitterness. Forgiveness makes us better people. Forgiveness is powerful. Forgiveness is one the best things we can do for ourselves.
The love of Christ is the way to forgiveness – and forgiveness starts with you.
Colossians 3:13 hits on this: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Christ forgave us when we did absolutely nothing to deserve that forgiveness. Forgiveness is entirely up to you – but remember that Christ is the standard, therefore, we are called to apply God’s forgiveness.
So give yourself time to reflect. Give yourself permission to feel your pain. Give yourself the grace that God gives you. And do not skip the last step – forgive.