This morning I was listening to this :
And I thought: I am a Christian because I believe in the possibility of true and complete forgiveness. I believe that it is possible for my heart to turn back to yours and yours to turn back to mine, and ours to turn back to God, and for there to be restoration.
I learned this from my parents. When I was a little girl (a preschooler) they attended a church where they had some dear friends. And the church had some conflicts and my parents were asked to leave, and their friends were told that they shouldn’t even speak to my parents. Years went by and that hurt was there and the thing was unresolved. And then there were changes at that church and those friends came to my parents and asked for forgiveness. And they were forgiven and there was reconciliation and a broken friendship was healed.
Impossible? Yes, but the things which come to us by grace are always impossible. That’s why we pray for grace to be able to forgive, not to forget, but to forgive and turn again in love.
I’ve had people say to me “Oh I can’t forgive this or that person for this or that thing, they haven’t repented, and until they repent I’m wasting my forgiveness.” Foolish! We’re not responsible for the other person’s repentance! We are responsible for our forgiveness and for letting go of the hurt and the pain and the “I was wronged.” It’s our pride that says “If you repent, I’ll forgive.” at the same time that we ask God to “forgive us as we forgive others.”
I often find myself asking for His forgiveness long before I’ve actually really fully repented. Repentance for me is a long slow journey, of turning again and again. To be sure I quickly turn away from a specific behavior, but the underlying attitude is another matter. It is a long, daily slog to turn away from and forsake, the pride and selfishness of my own heart. I must ask for forgiveness again and again, trusting in grace to turn hearts that I have wronged.
Forgiveness too is a process, not just a moment in time. I find that I often have to forgive the same person again and again, not because they have done anything new, but because I am unable to truly love them while still being angry or hurt by their actions. Sometimes I have to daily bring the issue up in prayer and ask God for the grace to let the issue or the hurt go, to heal the brokenness and to give me love for that person. He does give the grace and my heart does turn. Reconciliation is possible and therefore I believe.