The Yes of Forgiveness
I know you will find this hard to believe, but I mess up. I mess up a lot. And the place I mess up the most is with Jeannie. So many times I’m in a hurry… I’m rushed and I don’t listen to her as I should. Or I say something that hurts her feelings—and I feel bad. I really do. I didn’t mean to hurt her, but I did.
Now, here’s the hard part. No matter how many times I say, “I’m sorry,” I can’t take the pain out of her heart.
Here’s a little secret no one ever tells us: your hurt… your pain… belongs to you. Regardless of how sorry the other person might be, it does not take the pain away for you. The pain is yours to deal with.
So, the first step in dealing with forgiveness is to own the pain. “This pain is my pain to deal with and while the pain may not be my fault, it is my responsibility.”
This brings us to the second thing about forgiveness no one ever tells us: When we hurt someone else it won’t make our pain go away. When we seek revenge – a primal reaction to being hurt—the only thing we accomplish is making another person feel bad. It doesn’t make us hurt any less. By striking back, we have only escalated the cycle of violence.
So where do we begin? We begin by releasing the other person from the expectation he or she can fix what they did. He can’t… she can’t… so I won’t expect them to. I will turn to the only person who can—Jesus.
When I’m hurt, I will take my pain to Christ in prayer. I will tell Him how it happened and how I feel. I will talk about my anger and frustration and then, I will give my hurt to Christ. I will take it out of my heart and place it at His feet as some kind of broken offering.
And where that pain was, Christ will now be. My brokenness is filled with Christ’s wholeness. My anger is replaced with His love. And it’s here that I find my healing: not in vengeance, but in worship.
This is the power of our Risen Christ. He can take the cries of our pain and turn them into hymns of praise. The Yes of Christ to us, and in us, overwhelms any NO spoken to us by anybody else.