Life Maps

It occurred to me this morning while I was at church that I have terribly neglected my blog the past couple weeks. I blame it on having awful writer’s block. Somewhere down the line I started believing this little voice in my head that if I didn’t have some well thought out blog post it was better not to post at all.

So this may or may not be an uneventful post. That being said, you were warned.

The topic of forgiveness has been on my mind lately. This week alone I’ve listened to two sermons regarding the subject matter and while I am still no expert, I have some thoughts I would like to share with you.

Thought One: I often hear people say, “I cannot forgive him/her until I learn to forgive myself.” This is a cop-out. (Is cop-out the word to use? I’m just writing it as it sounds in my head.) I say this because I believe that our God is the only person who can offer us forgiveness. If we had the authority to forgive ourselves than why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

Thought Two: There is a verse that we quote about confessing our sins that can sometimes be abused. We are almost too loose with the confessing part, but the point of confessing isn’t to wave our dirty laundry like white flags, it is to begin the journey of transformation. If every time I slapped you I admitted and apologized to slapping you, but still continued to slap you, I bet you would find my apology empty. You would probably want to slap me back.

I think there are two parts to forgiveness. There is the first step is bringing God into the hurt and allowing HIM to forgive the person that wronged you. After all, He is the only person who truly has authority over forgiveness. The second step is trusting in the fact that God is in control of this hurt and you never have to conjure it up to memory again.

Bare with me. If in the heat of an argument, a wife brings up things from the past that they have fought about, it shows that she has never fully forgiven her husband about those things. The same thing goes with our lives, just as God doesn’t bring up our past mistakes, we shouldn’t keep a tally mark from when we have been wronged by the people in our lives.

Out of curiosity, I looked up how the dictionary defined forgiveness. It says “to grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc.” What that means is that your slate of mistakes is wiped out. Think of your mistakes like they were on a map. You are in China. Your mistakes would be way across the ocean in a different time zone. You can’t even see it or feel it or fathom it. In fact, you won’t even remember it anymore. The pain is gone. It is as far as the East is from the West.

There are some people out there who want to knock on doors and write letters to tell someone they have forgiven them. But forgiveness isn’t about who was right and who was wrong or who is more Christian than the other person. Forgiveness is not something that can be handed out like business cards.

This is what we are called to do: “Don’t just pretend that you love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other with genuine affection and take delight in honoring each other. If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:9-21 (give and take).

When you offer forgiveness to someone, and I mean really forgive them, you don’t have to tell all your friends, you don’t have to shout it on top of the mountains or @tweet them on Twitter, it’s between you and God.  That’s the power of forgiveness: it heals your heart more than the person who hurt you. It frees you from anger and stress and pain and grief and bitterness. It as far as the East is from the West and you can’t get much further than that.

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