Yesterday in church, I heard a message that resonated deeply within my heart.
Painfully so, however. It clanged and echoed and pushed its way inside the depths of my heart. It pushed up pain, hurt, anxiety, until tears trickled slowly down my cheeks.
The message was about forgiveness. I have always thought of myself as someone who forgives easily, who easily confesses to God above that I have forgiven someone who has wronged me.
But I have come to learn I tend to put restrictions on my forgiveness.
I say, “I will forgive you, but I can never forget what you’ve done.”
I say, “I will forgive you, but I will never trust you again.”
And still I say, “I’ll forgive, but I can’t ever let you close to me again after how you’ve hurt me.”
But is this how we are called to forgive? Always adding a “but” clause?
The pastor used an illustration yesterday. He spoke of a woman who’s husband had cheated on her, and she told him, “I’ll forgive you, but I can’t ever be close to you again.” And in my mind, I agree. It’s justifiable. How could she, after what he had done to her? But after a pause, the pastor added, “What if God said that to us?”
What if God said to me, “I will forgive you – but I can’t ever be close to you again”?
We are called to forgive as He has forgiven. And putting those restrictions on our forgiveness is not how we are called to forgive. And that is a hard realization – allbeit a good one – but definitely a hard lesson to take to heart. I can’t put restrictions on my forgiveness. I need to keep no record of wrong. It certainly isn’t an excuse for the other person – and I struggle with this – but I cannot keep record of wrong if I have forgiven them. How hard that is, though!