Friends, I have been struggling with the concept of forgiveness. Of course, this seems a crazy thing to say. Everyone knows and understands the forgiveness thing. Someone does or says something against us and we forgive them. In other words, we release them from their debt against us, we do not hold the infraction against them, we wipe the slate clean now and forever, we let go of any claims of revenge. For true forgiveness, these steps must be appreciated, whether the other person recognizes their act against us or not, whether they apologize to us or not. Once forgiveness is granted or given or recognized, we are to completely let go of the offense against us. It is not only the right thing to do, it is the Godly thing to do. We are reminded:
Peter got up the nerve to ask, "Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?" Jesus replied, "Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.", Matthew 18:21
I suppose that I get this, I am not dull. When someone strikes me once, I know the course and forgiveness is not difficult. When someone strikes me twice, I may grumble and brace myself, but I can forgive. The struggle that I am having with forgiveness is when the offender continually strikes me and strikes me. When I am bruised and bloody and I know that the assault won't stop, what then? Am I to armor myself, to fortify, to protect? I am human, and directing negative thoughts and negative energy toward the other person just happens. It is how we seem to be wired. What is the appropriate Christian response? What is the wise thing to do?
Lost deep in the jungle of darkness and confusion, I finally found a shaft of light, one that I was led to, one that I could not have found on my own. If God can forgive me time and again as I continually sin, with full knowledge that the offenses will never end, can I too not show grace? Can I too not demonstrate, even in some pared down and totally unmarkable manner by comparison, what I now recognize and understand? Possibly. At least I can try. Try to love and try to grow. I know that I will not succeed every time, maybe even not most of the time. Ultimately, simply the desire to forgive may be the most important step on this journey.