I can hold a mean grudge.
I’m not proud of it. I don’t like the idea of it. But I do it anyway; more often than I’d care to admit. Because the other option—processing, forgiving, moving on—can seem a lot harder.
Interestingly, I do like the idea of forgiveness. I know that it is healing; that it is necessary. I know that it is more for me, and for my benefit, than it is for the person who might have wronged me. And let’s be honest—I often need forgiveness just as much as the next person! In those instances, forgiveness and I are close friends.
But, perhaps most importantly, I know that forgiveness is a central tenet of my faith; of the gift I’ve been given by a God who certainly could have held a grudge—and didn’t.
“Forgiveness works through our ongoing willingness to give up certain claims against one another, to give the truth when we access our relationships with one another, and to give gifts of ourselves by making innovative gestures that offer a future not bound by the past.”
– L. Gregory Jones
I’ve been meditating on this idea of forgiveness lately. Not for any particular reason, other than it’s one of life’s many lessons that I constantly need to revisit. I like the idea of forgiveness, but I struggle with it just like anybody else. And I’m constantly searching for a way to make it easier—to get there faster, to forgive as part of my faith.
Here’s what I’m learning: Forgiveness requires faith. And faith requires forgiveness. They’re inseparable, so far as God’s concerned. And so far as I’m concerned, the Big Man’s got it all figured out in ways I never will.
So, I turned to Him for more.
Mark 11:25 says: “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
God’s forgiveness, like His love, is unconditional. He’s given it to every one of us, no matter what we’ve done or haven’t done or continue to do. If even He can forgive, who am I to say that I can’t?! And I can’t claim to have faith in God without also laying claim to the forgiveness He exemplifies: to my need to receive it and my responsibility to offer it up as well.
If I want to be more faithful—a more faithful follower of Christ, a more faithful wife and mom, a more faithful friend and business partner, and a more faithful human generally—than I have to learn to forgive.
I have to forgive the vendor who made an expensive mistake on a big order.
I have to forgive the stranger who left a rude comment on my Instagram post.
And I have to forgive myself for the times when I inevitably misstep—and for the times when my forgiveness of somebody else just doesn’t come quick.
If I have faith that He can do anything, than I have faith in forgiveness’ possibility and its power. I have faith that He can repair and restore my heart, my relationships, and my stubbornness, too. I have faith that God can guide and encourage my forgiveness, just as deeply as I have faith that He forgives me of all of my sins.
And so, lately I’m working on forgiveness; of letting go of my grudges—the big ones and the little ones—with greater speed and greater ease.
Forgiveness, as with faith, is never about someone else—it’s about me and it’s about God. And it’s about deepening my relationship with Him by following His example. I have faith in that.
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Is there someone you need to forgive? Write a prayer or note of forgiveness to them (even if it’s a note to yourself) in the comments below.