How hard can it be to forgive?
Much harder than we think.
I’m not talking about forgiveness as in, “Hey, I forgive you for forgetting all about our lunch date the other day.” I’m talking about forgiveness when you’ve been wronged, and you can’t seem to let it go. I’m talking about forgiveness when you really don’t want to forgive. You’d rather let the grievance sit there, sucking away your emotional energy, festering and making you bitter.
But what if they don’t want our forgiveness? What if they never ask for it? What if they don’t even realize they need it?
Sometimes when a person never asks, it is better not to give it to him immediately. This is what I mean: Sometimes we like to say “I forgive you” when we really haven’t forgiven the person. But we say it to get back at him in a way, to rub in the fact that we are magnanimously giving him something he hasn’t asked for. Our hearts are not true forgiveness. Instead, we need to wait until we really have forgiven the person in our hearts. And only then do we say, “I forgive you.”
It can also be helpful to get a sense of perspective. Some people carry deep wounds with them, but others have such a limited outlook on life that the height of unfairness for them is having comments needlessly deleted on a blog. We can be genuinely hurt, but sometimes in a way that is not worth brooding over. And the moment we focus on what Jesus did at the cross, suddenly it becomes harder to hold onto our own small grudges. If Jesus could forgive his friend Judas for betraying him unto death, surely we can forgive our friends when they are simply stubborn and hurtful.