“I Forgive You”
There are no more powerful words in the universe than “I forgive you.” Whether it’s said to a stranger, a loved one, or yourself, those words have the power to release people from a bondage they hadn’t fully realize existed and bring them into a position of possibility once again. Sometimes the sin disappears, sometimes it returns, and sometimes it returns with a vengence. But when that sin, that offense occurs, it takes work to forgive once and keep it forgiven, no matter the temptation to revisit. To keep an offense forgiven, to bury it and stand foursquare for forgiveness and the possibility of love that it may engender, is one of our highest callings as Christians.
The inability to forgive can also be my greatest failure. I carry a grudge like a beaten camel. I don’t have many grudges, but the ones I have are strong and unrelenting. Despite the fact I know what forgiveness is able to do, I hold onto it and the accompanying pain and like a complete moron, I wonder why God has not healed me of the hurt that seems so fresh. Rarely do I remember the first step to that healing is mine, not His.
Go back and look through the posts on this blog about Ryan Robertson and his family. Try and do it without shedding a tear. If you can manage to do that, you are a stronger person than I. Nowhere have I seen a more powerful, compelling case for forgiveness. In the anguish of his struggles, Ryan downright savaged his family. There were times they lived in sheer terror of his presence. But Ryan made a move to be forgiven and in one of the most beautiful examples of Christ-like love, they forgave him in heaps and measures. When confession was made and repentance achieved (sometimes a staggered process), the love of God was made manifest and beautiful. I have heard stories of people who have been profoundly affected by this family’s story (myself included) and that the love touches people so wide and far who are longing for this level of restoration is a clue that it is not a love of this earth, not of the mortal, flawed, sinful beings that inhabit it.
There are times that I cry out to God for His grace, to help me love Him more so that I might feel and experience that love. What I keep forgetting, and need to learn through the process of forgiveness, is that the first step is always mine. If we don’t think that we’ve done anything to be forgiven for, is it any wonder that we feel God’s love so weakly?