That word that has invisible but undeniable ties to all social spheres, be it family, friends, workmates, schoolmates etc; sort of like that family member who lives abroad and visits only on invitation, but who everyone knows is part of the family.
For our case, forgiveness should ideally never be too far away, especially because rarely can two or more people co-exist without friction. It’s in our fallen nature; we are bound to offend and get offended.
And even though the topic reads ‘three easy ways to forgive others’, we can all agree that sometimes forgiving another is the hardest thing to do, especially if the offense has been carried out over long periods of time, or if the hurt caused was deep.
However, I have compiled a few steps that have been of immense help to me in my forgiveness journey, especially towards people who are close to me like family members who I can’t avoid.
STEP ONE: Acknowledge your limited role in forgiveness.
For a long time, I thought that forgiveness meant instantly forgetting, or that once I forgave a person all the hurt they had caused me would just magically go *poof!* and dissolve into a ball of nothingness, leaving me light-hearted and free. I however came to discover that not all causes of offense are as easy to get over; some we do forgive and forget in a jiffy, and the pain caused is not major, but on the other hand, some hurts cut deep.
For these ones, forgiveness means that you submit your will to God’s will (His will is that we forgive each other that we might also be forgiven, Matthew 6:14-15), and then ask Him to heal you and bring you to a place of total restoration. What you are doing is acknowledging that you cannot bring yourself to a place of healing, and also that you do not want to carry around the resentment, anger, hurt or bitterness around any longer. In obedience to the command to forgive, you are laying down all of that at the cross, and seeking God’s healing touch and peace that surpasses all human understanding.
In that sense therefore, because you have intentionally submitted your free will to God’s good, pleasing and perfect will, He can now move in to heal you, and lift the bitterness and anger clouding your soul in His own divine way.
STEP TWO: Own up to the part you played in the offense
Most times when people wrong us, or when we get into disagreements, both parties usually have a part to play in the feud. That is why it is said that in any feud story, there are always three sides: your side, the other party’s side and the truth. When people are narrating the occurrences of a particular incident or incidents that led to strife, they will tend to give the version that suits them best i.e. the one that portrays them in the best light. They will therefore strategically omit the bits that consequently cast them in negative light or that unearth the part they had to play in the whole fiasco.
(Sounds familiar, ay?)
So when you have had a disagreement, it therefore goes without saying that when you are looking to forgive the other party, consider your own contribution to the dispute so that the weight of the consequences is not lying solely on the other party. Acknowledging your own misgivings and asking for forgiveness over the same will help you to also forgive the other person.
STEP THREE: Consider your own shortcomings and God’s relentless forgiveness
Every time my own flaws rear their ugly heads and glare at me, in the middle of the day or unexpectedly at nightfall, I almost always end up feeling like the worst person in the whole world…and I’m probably right. No wonder God tells us in Philippians 2:3 to consider others better than ourselves. In such instances, it does feel like I am a little more wicked than everyone else.
When I take into account my own darkness, suddenly, accommodating other people’s flaws and forgiving them doesn’t seem like such an impossible task, especially when I remember that God forgives of all my sins; if I ask Him to forgive me and I then forgive others. And He loves me just the same.
His forgiveness humbles me and makes me come undone.
And I hope it does the same to you too.
The closer I get to Christ, the more I realize just how wretched of a man I am; it pushes me to see myself for who I really am, leaving me aghast at each turn.
I would also therefore ask each and every one of you to draw closer to Christ to get a deeper understanding of just how imperfect you are, and this will help you go easy on the other imperfect people around you. This understanding will make you more willing to forgive, especially when you consider your own failures and the forgiveness offered for them by Christ freely, without Him growing weary.
I cannot imagine what it would mean for me if Christ grew weary of forgiving me, or if He attached a price to it. May we also never grow weary of forgiving others even as God makes us more and more like Jesus daily.
And if you have not received this Jesus that I speak of into your life and you are struggling with bitterness, past hurts, unforgiveness and anger, I urge you to welcome Him into your heart, and allow Him to carry you burdens.
I know that it weighs you down to carry that weight.
I know there’s untold pain in your heart sometimes.
From my own experience, it will do you well to lay your burdens at the cross, and receive the freedom that comes with exchanging your heavy burden for Christ’s light yoke.
As the saying goes, being angry at someone is like taking poison and expecting the other person to die.
It harms only you, beloved.
Submit to Christ, and let His healing power drench your heart, soul and spirit, until you are completely made whole and well.
Love & Love,