Luke 17: 3-5 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
I sat in his funeral, remembering that he had asked multiple times for the forgiveness that I was just too angry and hurt to give while he was still living. He was my ex-husband, and he had never hit me, but his words taught me that the wounding of the soul can be greater than physical wounds and take longer to heal.
As I sat in the pew listening to his current church and family members relate how he had changed after going to prison and had become a gentle and caring soul, I finally said in my heart, “I forgive you.” Of course, it was too late for him to hear. But, I had a burden lifted off my soul! I felt freed to move forward with my life which had stagnated through my belief in some of his words of my worthlessness.
Years after the divorce, he would see me as we rode buses to and from our jobs. He would apologize profusely for everything that he had put me through, informing me that he was now a Christian. I would just say, “You wait for your bus over there and I will wait for mine over here. Don’t speak to me!”
Yet, it wasn’t my place to evaluate the changes in him. Romans 14:4 states, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.” Whether people change or not isn’t a criteria for forgiveness, although repentance would be good.
Jesus required me as a woman of God to forgive him as many as seven times a day. I have come to understand why forgiveness is as important to the one wounded as the one being forgiven.
When we hold on to the ugliness of the inhumanity of others, our lives can become stagnant, unable to move on to find joy, happiness, and peace again. Forgiveness doesn’t diminish the hurt or make the past disappear, but it does allow us to take back our power from the situation and recoup our futures as much as possible.
I don’t think of forgiveness as weakness, because it takes courage and strength to let go and let God handle any repercussions. Forgiveness is one of the choices we have in this world, and it can unburden us to the point where another person’s words and actions cease to control our destinies.
Stay safe and well!