Why do we forgive? Because God commands us to, and because not forgiving turns inward on us. It makes us bitter and sick inside. How do we forgive? For me it begins with love. And to love them, I need to understand, to some extent, their pain. I need to remember that people who hurt others do so because they, themselves, have been hurt. I need to realize that their misdeeds, though hurtful and damaging at the times, should have no lasting value because they came from such a valueless place.
I’ll give you one example from my own past. Two neighborhood boys…bullies. They bullied me verbally every night and eventually began to get on either side of me, shoulder to shoulder, crowd me, pinch my behind and threaten to rape me. They did this repeatedly for the better part of a summer. I walked away from that group of kids completely, for my own safety, and later found that, indeed, they’d made plans to keep their promise. At the age of 11, I was saved by the grace of God, and the ears of someone who overheard them designing a strategy to pull me into the bushes and do what they wanted to do. The whole thing still sends chills up my spine.
One of these boys was just a puppet. He would do anything the other one told him to do. The other was a very different story. This boy was clearly evil, and very angry. No one internalizes and manifests that sort of evil and anger at that age (possibly 14) on their own. He was deeply wounded by someone, in some way and just acting out on the weakest vessel he could find, which was me.
The puppet? Well, what else can you say about that? He was a follower. He didn’t have it in him to say no. He just didn’t have it in him.
So -though it took a very long time, I forgave them based on their limitations. I could do that. I chose to do that…not for them, but for me, so that I could be free.
Now I have to do the same for everyone else on the list :). Again, not for them, but for me…so that I can be free!
Who will you forgive as we move into the new year? What is your strategy?
As always, thanks for reading!