Three years ago, my best friend broke my heart.
It was, of all things, about a boy we both liked. Looking back now, it seems trivial and silly. But at the time it was the most important thing in the world to me.
I saw her as someone who could lie to me and hurt me. But, I still felt the nagging obligation to forgive her.
Then it got worse: she wasn’t sorry. How do you forgive someone who isn’t sorry?
I thought the answer was simple: you don’t. Leave the forgiving to God and move on. He’s the one she has to answer to anyway.
Thankfully, that’s not how the story ends. But it took a while for the resolution to hit me.
Is forgiveness possible?
The urge to cut-and-run is pretty common. I don’t blame you if you’ve been hurt by someone you love and you feel that way right now.
Anger, fear, and pride are the emotions that lead us to places where these ideas seem rational. But those ideas aren’t rational.
What we have to learn is that forgiveness is a grace. When the Lord invites you to forgive someone, he challenges you to grow in grace.
When I was struggling with forgiveness, I sought the counsel of my pastor. He said something I’d never heard before. When I told him I was having trouble forgiving, and he said, “Of course you are. We aren’t able to forgive. God is able to forgive. It’s a grace.”
He advised that I allow God to heal the situation. He also reminded me to think back on times I did something wrong. That (combined with a long drive through the country!) changed my heart.
Suddenly, I had a thought. What if my love for people wasn’t contingent on they were nice to me or liked me? What if loving like Jesus loves truly means taking whatever people can offer—the good and the bad—and loving them not in spite of or because of these things? After all, the Lord created them, and me, on purpose and for a purpose.
Humility, humanity, and hugs
It’s amazing how easily forgiveness follows humility.
Once I reflected on how I’d messed up and the kindness that had been extended to me, I drove right to my friend’s house. We were both overwhelmed with the power of forgiveness. We apologized and cried and laughed and hugged and rejoiced.
God blessed us with a flood of humility that allowed us to move forward in a stronger friendship. The things that were said washed away. Today, we are still close with no animosity whatsoever.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
For the two of us, we both prayed fervently for our hearts to change. I prayed for the grace to forgive and understand. She prayed for the grace to understand and apologize. We both saw the deficits in ourselves more than in one another.
More often than not, the people we’re at odds with aren’t going to be in a similar spiritual place, simply because our journeys are so different. God meets us where we’re at—and it’s not usually the same place as the people we’re growing alongside.
Sometimes, it’s not possible to rebuild. However, that never means forgiveness is a moot point. In these situations, where the hurt has changed the fabric of relationship and it’s clear that the Lord is closing one door, here’s my advice: Approach with gratitude.
It’s not the first response you’ll have when friendship is changing or ending. But gratitude will lead us to humility.
You’ll realize you’re not owed friend, kindness, or understanding. Anything and everything is a gift. That powerful realization is rooted in humility.
Make forgiveness a daily intention
Forgiveness isn’t a one time thing. I try to pray for the grace of forgiveness daily. Even if you feel like you have no one to forgive, there are people you can offer up.
Your prayers can wash forgiveness over yourself and people that get between you and your faith. You can pray for people responsible for global travesties. Or, you can pray for compassion for world leaders, corporate CEOs, or people you encounter everyday. All of these are moments of everyday forgiveness.
In this one instance with my friend, it was amazing how simple it seemed. But there have been a dozen more times when it’s been painful, awkward, and seemingly impossible.
What are the impossible situations you can invite God into this week that your humility and His Grace could change forever?
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