By Kelly Carr
In our humanity, we get defensive when accused. We feel the fight-or-flight adrenaline when attacked. We harbor deep-set emotions when wronged.
I don’t know about you, but even after I feel I’ve gone through the process of forgiveness, the struggle comes when the memory of the injury remains and I try to move forward from that point.
Perhaps you’ve fought your whole adult life to pull yourself out from under the weight of negative words, actions, or pressures heaped upon you by a parent. Maybe you’ve worked day in and day out to show your boss how capable and talented you are—but you keep getting overshadowed by a showy coworker.
What do you do with the recurring negative people in your life? How do you live in a constant state of having to forgive and re-forgive the same people? I honestly don’t have the answers, but I know it’s what we’re called to do. Keep reading in this issue—you’ll find encouragement and steps you can take.
I do know that I’m tempted to hold tighter to the disappointments and critiques and sins done against me than I do to the positive words I’ve heard or the accomplishments I’ve achieved. But why? Why do I let the discouragement of the past eat away at all my goodwill and determination? Why let that take up valuable space in my heart?
What if we adopt a new perspective? What if we decide that the pain enacted upon us in the past does not have to fully define us? It may contribute a bit in shaping who we are, but it is not our true identity.
God’s definition of us is what matters. And here is how he sees us: “I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).
There’s another piece of the forgiveness puzzle we must examine: have you forgiven yourself?
As quick as we are to think of wrongs done against us, we have been the cause of wrongs in others’ lives. It may have been small or it may have been unmistakable. But whatever we’ve done, it’s not unforgivable.
God promises redemption for the repentant. He filled his Word with examples so that we can see murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, and thieves, along with deniers, gossips, and gluttons, all receiving forgiveness when they sought God’s grace.
So can you. What sins you have committed against others, and those you will surely do today, tomorrow, and next week, are all covered by the blood of Jesus. He has promised to forgive you if you call on him. Believe that it’s true and accept that forgiveness for yourself.
No, we won’t be experts at forgiving others or even ourselves any time soon. But we will be asked to do it again and again.
So let’s try this forgiveness thing together. It’s a mountain of a task, so let’s help one another climb. I sure find it’s easier when I know I’m not alone.