Forgiveness. Why is such a small word such a big deal?
You may have been hurt by someone in the past (or present) that you are struggling to forgive. This is not your run of the mill forgiveness – the kind that covers a temporary hurt like a marital squabble or an issue with a friend or coworker. This is forgiveness that needs to cover something that is irreparably broken. Something that was said or done that ripped your heart right out of your chest and you watched it being stomped on and picked apart right in front of your eyes. We’re talking hard, emotional damage. That kind of hurting. The one you try not think about. The one you wish you could forget.
I have been blessed to only have one irreparable broken heart scenario in my life. Although I understand and can appreciate that it can occur more than once in a lifetime. But let me tell you, my heart is still recovering. After that broken moment, I had to pick my heart back up off the ground, wipe it off, and cover it with gauze and bandages. I thought it was healed enough to take those bandages off. But then I realized the wounds were still fresh.
I thought I had forgiven this person. I thought I was able to move on. In actuality, I had forgiven from afar. This is the type of forgiveness where you “forgive” someone, but you distance yourself from that person and think if you do not have to see or deal with them on a regular basis, everything will be okay. Temporarily it seems like a perfect fix. But God has a way of uncovering fake forgiveness.
Just recently, God placed this person back in my life. Only temporarily, and for a short period of time, but there this person was. The bandages were ripped off and blood and feelings started bubbling over and the wounds were fresh again. I realized forgiveness from afar just wasn’t working for me. This person will be back again – likely only temporarily, and for a short period of time – but I know I needed to address this again because this person will be there, surfacing here and there for the rest of my life.
And so, I need to forgive. It is hard. It is something no one wants to face when the wounds are fresh. But we need to treat each encounter with those who have hurt us with a fresh slate of grace. There’s no reason to drudge up the past hurts we have experienced. Conversations and encounters are less likely to become ugly if we try to be like Christ.
Several years ago, my mom bought me a book called The Kindness Weapon by Bruce Wannamaker. It is no longer in print, but it sits on my bookshelf today as a wonderful reminder. In the story, a boy and his friend make plans to build a treehouse but before they finish one of the boys is in a car accident and ends up in a wheelchair. The healthy boy tries to cheer him up but the boy in the wheelchair doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or anything else. His Sunday School teacher suggested he use kindness towards the boy to help him recover. Essentially, the Sunday school teacher suggests the healthy boy kill the strained relations between them with kindness.
If you are hurting, and do not know how to start to forgive – kill the offending person with kindness. How do you kill someone with kindness? By doing small acts of love. Sending a card in the mail, helping them with a task they can’t do alone, stepping in and letting God use you where He sees fit.
This is not going to be an easy task. Even crafting a kind note is difficult when every bone in your body is objecting. But when you let God use you, when you kill others with kindness, your heart will be changed. Suddenly forgiving won’t seem so hard.
I’m going to try it. How about you?