Do you ever find yourself defining life by before and after the deep hurt?
The horrific season. The conversation that stunned you. The shocking day of discovery. The divorce. The wrongful death so unfathomable you still can’t believe they are gone. The breakup. The day your friend walked away. The hateful conversation. The remark that seems to now be branded on your soul. The day everything changed.
That marked moment in time. Life before. Life now. Is it even possible to move on from something like this? Is it even possible to create a life that’s beautiful again?
I deeply understand this kind of defining devastation in such a personal way.
When your heart has been shattered and reshaped into something that doesn’t quite feel normal inside your own chest yet, the word forgiveness feels a bit unrealistic to bring into the conversation.
But can I whisper something I’m learning?
Forgiveness is possible, but it won’t always feel possible.
It’s a double-edged word, isn’t it?
It’s hard to give. It’s amazing to get. But when we receive it so freely from the Lord and refuse to give it, something heavy starts to form in our souls.
It’s the weight of forgiveness that wasn’t allowed to pass through. And for me, that’s mainly because I’ve misunderstood something so incredibly profound about forgiveness.
Forgiveness isn’t something hard we have the option to do or not do. Forgiveness is something hard-won that we have the opportunity to participate in.
When I wrongly think forgiveness rises and falls based on all my efforts, conjured maturity, bossed-around resistance, and gentle feelings that feel real one moment and fake the next, I’ll never be able to authentically give the kind of forgiveness Jesus has given me.
My ability to forgive others is made possible when I lean into what Jesus has already done, which allows His grace for me to flow freely through me (Ephesians 4:7).
Forgiveness isn’t an act of my determination.
Forgiveness is only made possible by my cooperation.
Cooperation is what I’ve been missing. Cooperation with what Jesus has already done makes verses like Ephesians 4:32 possible. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Forgiving one another just as Christ forgave you. God knew we couldn’t do it on our own. So, He made a way not dependent on our strength. A forgiving way. A way to grab on to Jesus’ outstretched arms, bloody from crucifixion and dripping with redemption. He forgives what we could never be good enough to make right. And makes a way for us to simply cooperate with His work of forgiveness…for us to receive and for us to give.
That person or people—they’ve caused enough pain for you, for me, and for those around us.
There’s been enough damage done. And you don’t have to be held hostage by the pain. You get to decide how you’ll move forward.
If you’re knee-deep in pain and resonate with the feelings of resistance I have felt too, let me assure you over these next few days: forgiveness is possible. And it is good.
What is your initial gut reaction to the word “forgiveness”? How does it encourage you to know that forgiveness is made possible by our cooperation instead of our determination? Spend some time journaling about this today. Invite God into your questions and your hesitations.
Thank you to Lysa Terkeurst, excerpt from the devotional series from 'Forgiving What You Can't Forget'