What does it mean to forgive?

Throughout my life, I have come to different conclusions about what this process entails, yet one factor remains…it isn’t easy.

Some pain is physically destructive, yet other pain is capable of destroying us at the core of who we are on the inside…that is, if we let it.

In my current line of work, I am seeing for the first time hatred in the form of war. The little bodies of children being blown to pieces is not an uncommon sight in our trauma hospital. As I walk through the wards, I see humanity at its worst: amputees hooked to machines, babies bandaged from head to toe struggling to breathe, dead bodies hidden under white sheets before being placed out in the cold.  And yet the killers linger near by, looking for who else they can conquer.

And yet emotional pain caused by others can be deeply personal. It can rock our world so that we question everything. Nothing makes sense, so we find ourselves seeking justice for wrongs done against us.  I know that in my case, it can create a rage in me like no other. Sometimes, words have left me completely undone…stripped bare…afraid of everyone. Do I dare trust again?

But the question should also be asked, can others trust me?

At different times in my life I have also caused hurt.
I then cringe when I realize the judgement I have thrown back onto those that hurt me.  How do I control those feelings of judgment and anger? How do I wish well upon those that sinned against me or against those that I love? 
I can’t…not in my own power.

It’s hard. We don’t necessarily desire grace and good things for those that cause excruciating pain to others...whether physical or internal.

But, we are called to forgive even the ones that wake up every day and praise evil, just as we are called to forgive those that may unintentionally cause pain.

have been going round and round with how I respond when I struggle to forgive.  But it is actually fairly simple.

You see, I too sin.
I too, turn my back on God and choose myself over His glory.
I too, seek my own endeavors ahead of His.
I too, live in the flesh when I should be led by the Spirit. 
I am selfish, motivated by my desires, my pride.

I am no better.

It is natural to look at those that cause pain, and judge them for it…to elevate myself as better. But that being our first instinct doesn't make it right. I am not more deserving of God’s grace, His love, His favor…
but actually equally deserving of His wrath.

And when I stand over the bed of a baby girl, whose bloody body arrived wrapped in a sheet with her legs shredded into strings of flesh, yet breathes still…I picture her attacker’s face and must forgive.  His sin is no different than my own.  I may not be murdering children, but whose hearts am I hurting? 

I am no better.

When I think of the faces of those that have left deep emotional scars in my life…I seek His power to forgive. I wouldn’t choose it if my flesh was deciding. But I know it is a privilege to show love in this way. Others have shown me love when I wronged them.

To me, at this stage of my life, I am learning the forgiveness process. But it's a choice to accept the sin of others as equal to my own...to evaluate my sin and view it as dangerous as theirs. And to choose to pray God’s sanctifying power in others’ lives, as I pray it for my own life. I will pray He blesses them, as I pray He blesses me because we are the same.

Today, that is how I am learning to forgive.


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