Sometimes it’s very difficult to explain how to actually do things like forgiveness. I was asked recently to explain how someone actually overcomes depression, and I found myself giving a mix of complex and simple responses—in theory it is easy, but in practice much more difficult. This is what it’s like in getting forgiveness to work.
I am going to share the only way I know how.
Forgiveness, for me, is simply about giving up my rights to myself and expanding upon the rights of others so far as I’m concerned. I elevate them and diminish me. I become last so they can become first. It’s the only way I know that works. And I’m far from perfect in making it happen—if not for the grace of God it would not happen. When I am at the end of myself, I am at the beginning of relational life with the other person. When I forget my agenda, and their agenda becomes large in my sight, forgiveness is made abundantly easy.
But some will say, “What about me and my needs?” or “Am I to become a trampoline for them to jump on?” or “They will laugh at me!”
I say to that, “Do this with sincerity and you’ll experience miracles in your heart and usually also in the hearts of others, too.”
A Secret Only Known to Relatively Few
Even within Christian ranks, true spirit-filled forgiveness is a rarely accessed commodity. There is still too much of us and not enough of God.
That’s why this is a secret; known to, and experienced by, only a few.
Who will routinely give up their needs such that another’s needs might be fulfilled? If we call this forgiveness we may confuse it as love. But really they are same. This is because as we love with a sacrificial heart, genuinely seeking for the other person, shelving our own grappling nature in faith, we learn some of the abundance of grace. It’s in this form of love that God heals us, and then we call it forgiveness.
We forgive others by loving them. We forgive others who have hurt us, those we hate even, by giving to them without any thought of return. And even if they hurt us, where we can continue loving them, we experience God’s grace-engendered power.
To many this is bizarre. But in the name of faith, no risk equals no return.
We will no doubt need grace—lots of help from God beyond our explanation. We need to pray that we can be consistent in loving others in order to forgive them.
When everybody else wins we win too. We can be no victor in the relational world unless everyone is respected. The forgiving life is a loving life.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.