POSSIBLY the most powerful thing I’ve learned about forgiveness is that it’s hard. By that I mean I learned very little about true forgiveness when it came easy.
Gold comes mined from a deep search. And a deep search is necessary when bitterness has confounded all previous attempts to reconcile the matter in our mind and heart. When feelings of resentment continue cropping up. When we’re frustrated because we’re frustrated.
Chances are it’s something the other side hasn’t done that leaves you adrift from peace, though you have vowed to forgive. Or, it could simply be the case you know it’s right to forgive, but you’ve struggled with a heart that can’t seem to let go.
The harder forgiveness is, the deeper the life lessons that are learned, the more present and future benefit we get. Be encouraged when it’s especially tough to forgive.
Now you know there’s a purpose to the difficulty of forgiving certain things, consider the following biblical promises of forgiveness you can make that ensure it sticks as you recommit to the process:
1. I will not dwell on this incident – when I find I am, I will refocus my thinking on something more productive.
2. I will not bring this incident up and use it against you – once we make this promise vocally, the other person and ourselves can hold us to account. If we do bring it up again we will need to apologise and own our error.
3. I will not talk to others about this incident – gossip erodes relationships. Period. It ends all hope of peace. It ends the hopes we have even for having peace with ourselves.
4. I will not allow this incident to stand between us or hinder our personal relationship – putting the relationship first, no matter who it is we’re relating with, is advancing a person’s dignity so they may see how valuable our dignity is.
When we engage in the behaviour of forgiveness, our thinking changes and our attitudes begin to shift in a positive direction.
Owning our contribution to conflict makes forgiveness easier. This is why abuse victims require empathy — they didn’t contribute to the conflict that causes their grief. But even for abuse victims, the only hope we have of being free in life is to find a way to forgive our past.