Our pastor spoke on the subject of “Forgiveness” last Sunday. It was also Mother’s Day. It was an interesting choice – but he was right on the mark.
Mom’s are notorious for “stuffing” things – in order to better serve the family. Putting their own wants and needs aside. But more than that – because we are seen as the “role-model” for our home – we are not usually allowed to be as authentic as we need to be. We always have “little eyes and ears” watching our every move – seeing our reaction to things that happen and in general making it difficult to be who we really are.
When my children were younger – there were some interesting events that took place inside the church body. My husband and I were on staff in a few churches – where there was something done or said that left us reeling from the remarks or actions – and yet – we chose to let it go – and to forgive. My children don’t even know about those things – even today now that they are all grown up.
In recent years I have had other things happen – and yet – trying to model for my children – I have had to suck it up – not grieve a loss or injustice done – so that I could show that I am a person who chooses to forgive – at any cost.
This is good – and it is bad. I’m not sure it’s totally healthy. I’m not sure I have really forgiven – without strings. I still feel as though some owe me. Those that have chosen to hurt me and say bad things against me and my character. But at the time – taking the higher road meant – forgiving. But there were strings.
After the message on Sunday I learned something. It is not enough to say we forgive others for what they may have done to us – but we also have to forgive ourselves for the things that we have done. And often times that forgiveness is withheld longer for ourselves because we don’t think we need it. We feel justified – almost self-righteous because others have ‘done me wrong’. So we hang on – not thinking anything about it – but we have not really forgiven.
And when we have done something we know that God has forgiven – and maybe even the people in our lives (at least some) but to forgive ourselves is HUGE. I have spoken on this subject before in the last couple of years and I know that many struggle with this subject. It almost seems self-indulgent to say it. And if you’re like me – you think, ‘well it doesn’t erase anything – just because I say it’. And because it feels wrong somehow – we withhold it. Especially from ourselves.
If you are one that lives in a place called “guilt-land” then you know what I’m talking about. All the things that come to mind that you ‘should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’ done differently if you could go back in time. The people who would still be in your life today – except for that one thing you said or did. The children or parents you alienated because of that incident or letter you wrote in anger. Yeah – that one. If only. You’ve asked for forgiveness – even from that person and yet – you still hang on to it. It is what I call – “Forgiveness with strings“.
I want to get to that place in my life where I can truly let go of past hurts and issues from others – be free in my mind from things that I know I’ve done wrong and can really say – I forgive – without strings. I no longer hold others and myself – prisoner to things I can never fix – to wait for the magical day when others approach me and say, ‘it’s okay – all is forgiven’ – because I now know that day will most likely never come. I can no longer secretly hope they get what’s coming to them – hoping they are miserable in their ‘unforgiveness’ – I must let it go.
The only things that matter are these:
1. Know that God has forgiven me
2. Know that I have forgiven others
3. Know that I have forgiven myself.
Anything else is gravy, people. That’s what forgiveness is like – without strings.
Yeah I’m not there yet – working on it.