Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Forgiveness Is A Gift You Give Yourself

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is a personal choice. No one can make it for you. You must alone decide if your heart can heal enough to open up again to those who have wronged you.

Yet, neither can we bear the grudge, the anger, or the resentment that one feels when they cannot forgive. It is a load one must carry alone.

It is a heavy weight that never shifts. A shadow that never fades into sunlight. A voice that never stops crying. A wound that forever stays exposed to salt water.

To forgive, we shed that ugly skin of bitterness. We open doors to better health, our future, and a more desirable relationship with God. We breathe again. We see. We run. We are free.


“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
Paul Boese


My sister is in the midst of forgiveness.

It is not an overnight process. Words like "I'm sorry" will not automatically heal her. Pushing memories to the back of the bus won't help her move on down the road. Wanting to forgive does not make it so. It will take time and dedication.

Someone she loved very much hurt her beyond what she was capable of imagining. But she believes that a life without this person would be to bear an even deeper pain. To forgive him, she is saving herself. To open her heart to him in reprieve-is like singing and dancing and smiling again.


"It really doesn't matter if the person who hurt you deserves to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. You have things to do and you want to move on." - Unknown author


In most cases, we all like to see forgiveness exercised in our lives. We delight at children hugging one another after a toy fight, we warm with the thought of making up after a heated discussion, and we happily welcome a truce after days of a stale disagreement.

None of us liked seeing my sister hurting. We ached as she asked "why?", we shuddered at the sound of her tears, and, sadly, we even grew weary of that monstrous burden that soon began to seep into our lives and happiness.

We had no medicine to heal her. No remedy to make her content again. No words that would soothe or console or relieve her.

We only had ears to listen and a heart that truly believed that things would get better.

I know my sister has concerns about how others will view her choice to forgive.

We cannot judge. We did not carry the weight- the load of hurt. We did not have those sleepless nights, those endless tears, that wrenching gut, those feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

We should be glad in her ability to forgive. We should rejoice that she smiles again. We should never question the huge obstacles that love can overcome.


"Forgiveness is a rebirth of hope, a reorganization of thought, and a reconstruction of dreams. Once forgiving begins, dreams can be rebuilt. When forgiving is complete, meaning has been extracted from the worst of experiences and used to create a new set of moral rules and a new interpretation of life's events."
Beverly Flanigan -

Sometimes making the decision to forgive takes times. Years even. But it is a time of delayed living. It is a limbo of sorts. A pause in the stream of happiness. To bear a grudge is to be caught in the quagmire of bitterness. It does you no good. It makes you ugly.

To forgive those who have wronged you is God's hope. Yet, to forgive someone does not mean you must walk arm in arm again. You can forgive and then take another path that leads a different direction. You don't have to kiss and makeup. You just have to brush off the past and crack out of that shell of spite.

You must open your heart.
Forgiveness knows no other way in.

"Forgiving does not usually happen at once. It is a process, sometimes a long one, especially when it comes to wounds gouged deep. And we must expect some lapses...some people seem to manage to finish off forgiving in one swoop of the heart. But when they do, you can bet they are forgiving flesh wounds. Deeper cuts take more time and can use a second coat."- Lewis B. Smedes

What we all want most is to see our loved ones happy.
If forgiveness brings this to my sister, then I know her choice has been a good one.

Yet, opening up your heart exposes it to the possibility of another wound. A repeat of pain.

But we cannot let that worry deter us.
We must cross that bridge when we come upon it. We must build that defense only when the time calls for it.
We must deal with each day like a fresh gift. And we must enjoy them one by one without a thought to their end.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
Paul Boese

My sister has forgiven- but yet, I know she has wonders about our opinions concerning her choice.
But, we must be forgivers, too. We must open our hearts and accept those that wronged her.
We are happy if she is happy.

Sometimes forgiveness is automatic. Like breathing. It doesn't take a fight, a war, a separation.
Sometimes all it takes is the willingness to admit wrong, accept responsibility, offer an apology, or sincere repentance.
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” Henry Ward Beecher
Today, don't let bitterness fester in you. Don't grasp tightly to that grudge, don't wallow in self-pity- don't let another person interrupt your peace.

Let it go.
Release that fight.
Spread your wings and live again.

You'll be glad you did.

Luke 6:35-38;42
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven..."


Today's Five Grateful Things:

1. Solar lights that glow
2. Seed catalogs
3. Lilacs
4. A new camera
5. Strawberries with poppy seed dressing