I feel like forgiveness is this abstract thing that seems really easy until we are actually faced to participate in it. It’s a beautiful and idyllic sounding concept, to let go of those who have hurt us.
But it’s when we’re in the midst of it, in the mucky parts of broken relationships and hurt where we find forgiveness to be incredibly difficult. This can be a place where forgiveness seems impossible, where the weight of letting those people go is too much to bear because we want to be right and we want to be justified in our hurt.
And maybe, sometimes, we want to hold onto that anger, onto that hatred because they deserve to be hurting too and somehow in our minds we believe that our holding onto them will somehow cause pain in their lives; that they will feel just as miserable as we do in those moments.
It’s easy to hold on to these things, it’s easy to sit in the murkiness of anger and resentment and self-pity as we strive so hard to find and remember those things that hurt us.
The thought of letting it go, of ridding ourselves of the grudges we cling so tightly to, can sometimes seem more agonizing than holding on. I think that the thought of letting go of those events and people and memories and actions is hard because this would require us to face the reality that those people are flawed humans like ourselves, not just the monsters we create in our minds.
And sometimes I think we’re scared of this because if we start to perceive those people more human than evil, it’s significantly harder to be angry.
I don’t know who your people are, the people who hurt you and made decisions that impacted your life in some kind of negative way. But I do know that relationships are messy because people are complicated and in the process of connecting with others there is room for hurt and miscommunication and a dangerous sense of comfort, which sometimes leads to pain.
But I want you to think about this, to think about the radical idea of really letting it all go.
Of coming to terms that yes, those people hurt you, but that if you keep clinging tightly to that thing you will also continue clinging on to your hurt.
Jesus proposed a radical idea the day He told the people to forgive their enemies. And the idea of allowing grace to infuse the people that hurt us and those situations we hate can seem scarier because it means we’re out of control. It means that we’re free, but it also means that they’re free and sometimes we just don’t want that.
And I think the scariest part of all of this is that letting go of these things that hurt us really means that we have to let go of our pride.
Because isn’t that really the thing that keeps us holding on?
It’s our pride that wants us to be justified in our hurt and it’s our pride that wants others to suffer. It’s our pride that keeps us living in the pain because that’s where it thrives, where it can accumulate attention and grow.
Maybe once we let go of these things we’ll have to face the reality that we’re human too and that those things that feed our pride are really the things that destroy us.
Once we truly participate in forgiveness, we realize that it makes us confront our humanity.
I think this is part of the point, because once we face our flaws and our pride we find our need to go to the Cross and be forgiven ourselves. Once we face our humanity, our pride starts to die and Christ is better able to live in us.
Once we face our humanity and participate in forgiveness, we let ourselves be a vessel where the Gospel is truly evident.
I encourage you to embark in the process of forgiveness if you have those people and those things you continue to cling on to. Allow Jesus and the real possibility of freedom get you there, to let go of all that stuff you don’t need anymore.
Picture credit: Kayleigh Sisson