Christians love to tell each other to forgive. You know, because that’s what Jesus told us to do. Seventy times seven forgive. We know unforgiveness locks us into a prison cell, and ball and chains us to the abuser of our past. Hate and bitterness is a cancer that will eat away the very flesh of the soul. We’ve heard preachers quote, “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. We do our best to forgive. We manage to bury those despised memories down into the deepest secret place of our hearts. We place a Jesus Band-aid over the gaping hole with a prayer and a scripture, but if a memory is triggered, we secretly hope those people burn in hell. Forever.
We know we’re supposed to forgive, but how? How do you forgive a person who takes your childhood innocence and steals it in the night? How can you forgive the person who was supposed to protect you from that thief, but only turned a blind eye and let you believe you weren’t worthy of anything different? You open up your heart and give a piece of yourself to be cherished by someone you love, only to stand and watch that person grind that piece of you into the dirt with his heel and leave you to bleed. Then, that person is back with a “it won’t happen again”, but it does, again and again. You no longer know who you hate more, yourself or him. How do you forgive the other woman? How do you forgive someone who left you mutilated, scarred and so broken that you no longer recognize the woman in the mirror? How do you forgive someone when the only thing you want is for that person to suffer like she’s made you suffer?? How?
So, is it possible to forgive, like, sit down, eat dinner and hug his neck afterwards kind of forgiveness? To hope all the best for them kind of forgiveness? To share a bed with someone and have no trace of resentment? Yes, it’s possible. I know it’s possible, because I’ve experienced it. It’s difficult, but it is possible. Even though forgiveness is a decision, it’s much more complicated than just saying, “I forgive you”.
I wish I had a magic forgiveness pill. I really do. Or a secret formula or 3 step process. I wish I had a sparkly Jesus wand that I could wave and every gory memory would be gone. I know we Christians love to quote scriptures and encourage each other to “pray about it”, and that’s great, but I’m not writing this to quote you some scriptures about “have faith”, “give it to Jesus”, or “trust in the Lord”, because, quite frankly, that annoys me. I know Jesus can heal the wounds of the past, and does, but I also know there are natural laws and processes God set in place. God uses those natural laws to do the supernatural.
I’ve stopped looking at forgiveness as a thing, but rather a journey or a process that doesn’t just happen overnight. Just like a broken arm takes time to heal, so does the process of forgiveness takes time. Over time, hate turns into anger, anger turns into pity, pity turns into compassion, and compassion turns into love. Yes, I said it, one day you can love your enemy.
Forgiveness starts with yourself. Christians like to say, “It’s not about you. It’s about Jesus or it’s about others”, but I’m saying when your heart is bleeding from a lifetime of stabs, then it is about you. It doesn’t mean you don’t love Jesus or you’re full of pride. It means you need to take care of you while your inner self heals. I think of the wounded heart like I think of the wounded body, and it must be treated in the same exact manner.
It’s much more difficult to forgive someone for causing an accident while you’re laying on the gurney bleeding from your chest. It’s almost impossible to forgive someone for gashing your leg when after a year, under the bandage, you’re suffering from rot and gangrene. The pain is too severe. When you’re in anguish and crisis, you’re not in a position to forgive. No one would ever tell you to pray about those wounds, or tell you that you need to get over the pain, instead, they would tell you to get professional help. Find a doctor.
It’s no different for your heart. You need to get professional help. You must stop the bleeding. You must fix the festering and infection. You must heal. Then, and only then, can you began the supernatural journey of forgiveness.