Forgiveness is not once and done for us finite and fallible human beings; it is an ongoing process of the heart. Often we can offer forgiveness for an “offense” and never think about it again or look back and even laugh about it. All too often, however, the offense is repeated, the wounds reopened, the knife is twisted, or we allow ourselves to wallow in the hurt of past violations. Every. Single. Time. Our freedom comes in releasing control (and I am a control freak) of our hurt and anger, surrendering it and the person or situation to God, and practicing the seventy times seven principle (Matthew 18).
I “accidentally” found the book, “Forgiving What You’ll Never Forget” by Dr David Stroop, in the airport bookstore. The back cover described counsel I needed to let wash over me. Dr. Stroop packages forgiveness as a gift that we all need to give and receive. He biblically distinguishes between forgiveness and reconciliation as well as explains the ongoing process of healing that forgiveness brings. He helps the reader understand that, of course, we won’t always forget everything we need to forgive. Not forgetting, yet surrendering the pain and bitterness to the cross, helps us to not repeat the offense, guards our hearts from further hurt, and protects our children and loved ones from similar offenses. Forgiveness offers freedom in so many ways. Dr. Stroop guides his reader to that freedom.
I have come to realize that forgiveness is:
- An act of worship
- Healing and contagious
- Grace with boundaries
- Does not mean you have to be a punching bag
- A cure for anger and bitterness
- Faith not in humans’ fallibility but in God’s tender care for our hearts
- As much for the forgiver as the forgiven
- Allowing God’s love to flow through me
- Something I am incapable of doing without divine intervention
- A free gift
Forgiveness came to us through the cross. We have all endured hurt and heartache, but because of the cross we have the supernatural ability to forgive. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
As I write this, I feel there is so much more to say, but forgiveness is a personal story and the final chapter can only be written by you.