WE may wonder why forgiveness is so hard, and there are many reasons why.
But there are some reasonable reasons why forgiveness becomes improbable.
Firstly, if we don’t feel safe, we have little ground of strength for investing in the forgiving of a perpetrator. If the perpetrator comes from strength, a position of power, and they wield that power, we have little hope of achieving the safety we need in order to settle into the grace we ought to extend. Those in the power position who lord it over people may make it impossible for a person to find a dignified and settled safety. And even an incorrect perception makes for a harsh reality. Even if there’s no abuse of power, if we believe there is, there’s no safety whatsoever to found the grace of our forgiveness on.
We cannot proceed into forgiveness when we feel unsafe.
Secondly, if the perpetrator of a hurt has no understanding of what they’ve done to hurt us — or worse, they have no interest in understanding — then there is understandably going to be an added difficulty in forgiving them. If there is no motive in them to understand, and they continue claiming their innocence, especially whilst highlighting our ‘guilt’, there is little that can be done.
Acceptance may be the best we can achieve. Acceptance enough to let go and move on.
Thirdly, if we don’t feel safe and we don’t feel understood, there must be no chance we can affect forgiveness, no matter how hard we wish to honour God. The best we may hope for is a resigned acceptance that what is, is. We will still come around to the fact that we need to forgive — seventy times seven. We will continue to try if we’re obedient. Out of the situation we find ourselves in, therefore, we deduce that acceptance is forgiveness. It’s the best reconciliation possible.
If, however, we are in a position of safety — our safety has been provided for — and we have the other side’s understanding — we have easy grounds to forgive and get on with life. Otherwise, forgiveness is not so easy.
Notwithstanding the above, we have no excuse. We face a biblical imperative:
Let go. The grace God has forgiven you with is sufficient for you to forgive.
Harsh call, perhaps, but all spiritual power will come to us when we have let go.
All this is made easier when we understand the barriers of safety and understanding.
The burden of bitterness is banished on letting go: God gives us access in that moment to healing of soul.
Above all, we can know that God knows our efforts; to attempt to forgive is enough.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.