Forgive. That’s a difficult word. It’s one that is frequently thrown about in conversation, People mess up, hurt us, break our trust, and immediately we are told to, “forgive and forget”. We are supposed to move on. “Let it go!” Sorry! I’m certain I’ve now inflicted you with the endless tune from Frozen playing away in your mind. You’ll have to forgive me. The question is, will you forget? Is forgetting really possible?
God’s word says in Mark 11:25-26, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” No place in God’s command to forgive does it say that we must forget. Y’all, it’s really not possible to forget. Our human minds remember things. Granted, most of us can’t remember why we came into a specific room in the house, or why we opened the fridge, but we remember hurt. We remember the big things. If you’ve been reading my series on bricks, you know that I remember things that hurt me deep in my core. I’ve learned that I have to forgive Dad for the mistakes that he made. I have to forgive him for poor choices, addictions, and downright bad behavior. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. Those experience will never leave my mind…alas I am human. But they won’t control me anymore.
Forgiveness means that we let go of the negative emotions associated with certain memories. It means we no longer hold a grudge against the person who committed the act against us. Micah 7:18-19 says, “Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.” Forgiveness means we don’t stay angry, but we provide mercy to the person who hurt us. Why? Because that’s what God does for us. He forgave you and me for every sin that we have committed. Every sin that we will commit. He forgave us when we hurt him deep at his core. Then, he showed us the most amazing grace and mercy possible. He sent his son Jesus to die for us.
Forgiveness became a big word in my life. I’ve been through so much hurt in my life. I’ve carried those scars for a long time, and I will continue to be etched by them for all of my days in this life. However, at some point, I decided I had to forgive. Tonight, I heard from Momma. Dad was admitted to the hospital. He has been very ill with a slowly progressing degenerative neurological disease. I’ve watched him suffer over the years. I’ve experienced his continued anger and emotional abuse. I’ve listened to him belittle those caring for him, and beat down anyone who tried to be of any help. I have endured the same. One day, God showed me that I had to forgive Dad. I had to show him mercy, and accept that God had a plan for my life, even through the pain. God has a purpose for me! It was at that time that I realized I had to forgive.
I didn’t know if I would ever be able to show compassion to Dad for the deep down hurts that he put in my life over the years. I didn’t know until tonight. I had been praying to God, and asking him to perform a miracle in my life. A miracle in Dad’s life. Tonight, Momma called. Dad has been admitted to the hospital. His illness is progressing, and Dad is incredibly weak. He can no longer care for himself in any way. He’s angry and afraid. He lacks hope because he doesn’t know the Lord. I found myself praying for his salvation. I found myself praying for God’s mercy on Dad, and our family. I often thought it wouldn’t bother me when the time came that he was ill like this. I was certain that even when the time came that he would pass from this life it wouldn’t have any bearing on my emotions. Tonight I realized I truly have forgiven him. How do I know that? Tonight, I felt compassion for Dad. I found myself concerned as to whether he was receiving proper care. Was he comfortable? Was he afraid? It was then I discovered forgiveness in it’s true form.
Forgiveness means that I’ve put the pain aside, and I have learned to have compassion for a soul. That soul raised me, put me through college, gave me away on my wedding day, grieved with me when we lost our first child, and celebrated with me when our son was born. Through all of the hurt, I found peace. I found compassion, and I found the ability to once again pray for his salvation.
I most likely will be traveling to help Momma during this time Dad is in the hospital. Whether this is the end of his life, or whether it is another step in the journey God has for us, I am not angry anymore. I have forgiven. The wounds have healed, and the pain is gone. Only the scars remain, if only as a reminder that Jesus carries scars from his life on this earth, and yet he still loves me beyond measure. His scars represent an amazing act of love. It’s called forgiveness.