(Or “Did God mean I have to forgive them, too?”)

(a.k.a. Keepin’ the hate)

I’m very quick to forgive, or to offer apologies, when offense is given or taken. Forgiveness is an emotional lubricant and a learning opportunity, at least for me. As mentioned before, it’s important to me to get along with people, and I am genuinely horrified when having given offense, most especially the unintended kind. But long-term forgiveness, when, for example, someone has a change of heart, can be a real challenge for me.

How often have we gotten out of a relationship, a bad break up, and it not been clean? He did you wrong. She cheated on you. He hurt you. She tore out your heart. Somewhere along the line, the two of you got lost in a spiral of betrayal, anger, hurt, and even hate. Then we wear the scars into our next relationship. However, at some point we have to wrestle with what it means to best love one another. This includes forgiving one another.

During the grieving of the relationship, the mourning time allows us to process the hurt and lessons of a relationship. We often think of forgiveness as something that someone who has done us wrong must ask of us. It is much harder to offer forgiveness to the person who has wronged you, especially if they haven’t asked for it or won’t hear it; but forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself.

It is tempting to hold on to the anger, resentment and the sense of betrayal that may come with a break up, but you can’t keep holding onto things that happened in the past. It only leads to problems with the health of your future relationships. It’s like we get stuck in an emotional rut.

Scripture teaches us that we must forgive, because Christ forgave us. India.Arie sings “If Jesus can forgive crucifixion; surely we can survive and find a resolution.” I do not know if we can ever recapture our friendship, but we can ensure that there is no resentment between us. Forgiveness does not happen in a moment. It’s a process. Today, I choose to begin that process. The completion of that journey will not happen tomorrow or next week, but hopefully soon.

There are times when we are called to be a peacemaker. Let’s not forget that our former Significant Other was a part of your life. You carved out time for them, carved out space for them, they became part of your routine. Sometimes we have to villify the other person in order to move on, or more precisely, have a sense of moving on. We burn the bridge so that we don’t, or aren’t tempted to, keep going over and over it again. Yet it may be more healthy for us to forgive in order for us to move on.

Look, forgiveness is a choice, not always an easy one, but “forgive and forget” is a lie we tell ourselves. You’re much better off believing in forgive and remember; forgive and learn; as long as you forgive and move on. Moving on, any kind of transformation, is a process and the power of forgiveness and love is in the process: starting with absolute honesty (confession), owning up to what you have done, your part in things. Acknowledging that what you have done doesn’t define you. And then letting it go, as forgiveness opens the door for a new beginning.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean a restoration of the relationship. Sometimes the loving thing is to walk away. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) As much as I’d like to conveniently toss out the words of the apostle Paul, we’re to try our best to live at peace with one another.

Jesus’ forgiveness is a living parable that teaches God’s forgiveness is not dependent on our worthiness, ability, or even our deeds of repentance. It is completely a product of God’s grace. “I, even I, am the One who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; And I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

You’ve been forgiven (by God) and need to move on. Forgive them and move on. And don’t forget to forgive yourself. And move on.

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