I had to forgive my Dad again the other day.
I had to forgive him for something that happened over 5 years ago.
My parents are divorced, and while not spectacularly messy, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses either. Cue my having to forgive my Dad.
The thing about forgiveness is that it’s hard.
It’s not even just the initial ‘I forgive you’ that is hard. It’s having to constantly forgive them again and again, sometimes, whenever you think about them.
As Christians, God has not called us to easy things, and He called us to forgive others. Even harder, He called us to forgive those who haven’t asked for forgiveness. Even harder, He called us to forgive our enemies (Luke 6:27), because how could we really love someone if we can’t forgive them? Thank goodness for God, without which I would never be able to forgive my sister for ‘borrowing’ my shoes, much less my Dad for leaving without an excuse.
The thing is, forgiveness is so much more than a simple ‘I forgive you’.
You can forgive someone and still be angry. Your feelings are not what you are, and the Bible never said that anger was bad; just don’t sin in your anger. (Matthew 5:21-22)
The hardest part about forcing someone over and over again isn’t having to forgive them at all; it’s catching yourself acting and feeling as if you still hadn’t forgiven them.
Being able to take a personal inventory and realize such a thing is hard, but in the end – it’s so worth it.
My Dad has never asked for forgiveness for any of his actions, and a lot of them really hurt me. It has been a long process for me to get where I am now – and yet I am still having to forgive him.
That is the real beauty of forgiveness, because it’s not really about the other person at all; it’s about you.
As a mature adult, I need to act like a mature adult when I am with my Dad – If I didn’t forgive him, that would be next to impossible.
Being able to forgive my Dad means that I have half the baggage of other people who are in the same position.
Being able to forgive my Dad means that I am not consumed by poisonous thoughts and feelings.
Being able to forgive my Dad means that I can peacefully live my life without being chained by his poor decisions – I am free from feeling hate.
All told, without forgiveness, I would lose a lot of sleep, and I wouldn’t be very nice to be around, and I wouldn’t have control over a lot of my actions.
The thing is, by not forgiving someone, for whatever reason, you allow all of the bad habits (thinking towards them with malice in your heart, spending all of your time mentally grousing about it/them, etc.) to manifest themselves in your life.
Once you open that door, they will make themselves at home; not just in that one area, but in others too. Soon your life will be overtaken by these thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings that then lead to actions and words. Before you know it you have changed, and not for the better.
I know that it’s hard to forgive, but even just saying the words out loud, “I forgive you.” goes a long way into not following that path.
Once you realize that forgiveness isn’t about the other person,’They don’t deserve it!’ becomes irrelevant.
Think back on all of your sin, all of those time where you have wronged, betrayed, and hurt God. He still forgave you.
Even better, He gave you the gift, the grace to also be able to forgive someone, over and over again; ‘up to seventy times seven.’ (Matthew 18:21-22) or 490.
Forgiveness isn’t just a ‘one-time’ thing, it’s a process. A process that allows us to live out our walks with God, and not jus give Him lip-service.