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Published on March 7th, 2013 | by Nathaniel

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Forgiveness Doesn’t Have to be an Episode of CSI

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Have you ever stopped to think about the word “forgiveness”? It’s such a heavy word, isn’t it? “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” comes to mind in the most dramatic context. Jesus is scandalously betrayed by his own disciple and a brutal crowd is mercilessly chanting for the execution of our Savior. “Forgive them father,” Jesus says. Yeah…I don’t know if it’s just me but sometimes I over complicate forgiveness and allow the act of forgiving to be much more dramatic than it has to be.

As a kid, I could hold a grudge like no other- if you wronged me, you got the silent treatment, an occasional “you wronged me so I’m going to stare you down till you cave” glance, and even isolation from that person or situation. I admit I was a different kind of kid. There was one particular afternoon that my mom was supposed to pick me up from school. As usual, she was running late but this time it was extremely late- it must’ve been at least an hour and 15 minutes, topping her previous record of 45 minutes (cue in African people time joke). A scowl had been seared on my face at 30 minutes so as soon as I got into the car, I was broiling. I don’t remember if she apologized but I know my response- silence for a good 5 minutes and then I opened the broiler and everything that came out of my mouth was charred and burning. She stopped at a gas station and I was so furious that I just left. I took the bus to my sister’s house and didn’t respond to her missed calls. Later when I came home, there was a stand-off, then the firing of verbal bullets, and finally a truce.

This civil war could have been avoided if I made the conscious decision to forgive early on. Rather than having to engage in a civil war in which many casualties were lost (time, resolve, $1.50 for the bus), I could’ve made a small choice with a big impact.

It can be hard to forgive, especially when that person is a family member. If we can’t look a person in the eye without negative thoughts consuming our being, we haven’t forgiven him or her. While it often takes a lot of strength to forgive, especially when someone has assaulted or violated our physical, mental, or spiritual well-being, it doesn’t have to be an episode of CSI. We make forgiveness easier by choosing to forget and making the decision to clean the slate- not bringing up that experience again.

I know someone who claims to have forgiven but holds onto those past experiences so much so every time this person sees the other person, you can watch the visible discomfort appear on their face. This person can’t talk about the other without mentioning something negative or sharing how they were wronged. Forgiveness doesn’t look like a tally sheet. True forgiveness grants us the ability to move on. We save ourselves from the cocktail of anger, isolation, and negative thoughts when we decide to forgive and push that situation out from our memory. It may take steps, but we’ll thank ourselves when we truly decide to forgive. If we really posture our hearts after God, we also have to take his posture on forgiveness.

Micah 7:18-19 “Where is another God like you, who pardons the sins of the survivors among his people? You cannot stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing mercy. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

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