Reaching the stages I am at in this season of life, I’ve had the challenges of bitterness, intense indescribable pain, having to tweak my prayer life, learning to not get so offended, finding myself again in Christ and now forgiving.
I’ve had to forgive some difficult things, things I’m positive years ago I would not have been able to even remotely consider forgiving.
However I wanted to write more in depth the challenges and process it takes to forgive, just because we forgive doesn’t mean it’s all done.
There’s things that need to happen within our hearts after we utter the word, “forgive”.

The world depicts forgiveness as a means of weakness, when really it’s what separates Christianity from all other religions.
I recently read yet another devotion on learning to really fully forgive in my heart, that’s where the true transformation and forgiveness happens once the words “I forgive you” exit our mouths.
I want to point out what forgiveness is NOT which helped me see things clearer rather then forgiveness mixed with injustice, bitterness, excuses, measuring and more.
– Forgiveness is not condoning. Forgiveness does not excuse bad behavior.
– Forgiveness is not dismissing. It involves taking the offense seriously, not passing it off as inconsequential or insignificant.
– Forgiveness is definitely not forgetting. Deep hurts can rarely be wiped out of one’s awareness.
– Forgiveness is not pardoning. A pardon is a legal transaction that releases an offender from consequences of an action, such a s a penalty.
– Forgiveness is not a vague notion of ‘tolerance’. This is, at best, a low-grade parody of forgiveness. At worst, it’s a way of sweeping the real issues in life under the carpet.

– Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Reconciliation takes two persons, but an injured party can forgive an offender without reconciliation.
– Forgiveness is not forgetting. Deep hurts can rarely be wiped out of one’s awareness.
Learning what forgiveness is not, helped narrow down what forgiveness truly is: Forgive others for their sins or your Father will not forgive your sins.
Ouch.
Put that way, it’s really quite simple, there is no alternate way of perceiving that command.
It goes even more in depth since God knows our hearts, should we forgive not purely out of obedience but mostly so we receive forgiveness, that doesn’t count either.
It’s a pretty cut and dry command to say the least.

I admit in the past I have been tempted with being revengeful, I haven’t struggled with that throughout this past year but it’s “funny” how easy that thought process can sneak into one’s mind.
I had to remind myself when that old familiar way of thinking tries creeping into my mind that God is a better justice-maker then I am.

I am releasing my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to workout the moment I forgive.
It brought me peace remembering how much better of a job God is at seeking justice.
In the past the times I have had revenge only ended with hurting myself, others and the person(s) I was angry at.
It supplies no resolution, instead it creates more pain for more people.

I’m in the process of forgiving people and it has not been easy to be completely honest.
Some things I have found easier to forgive then others, but when things continue to reoccur it becomes more difficult.
I’ve at times struggled with a self righteous attitude almost being prideful about what I’ve had to forgive people for.
I was reminded by a friend this week on God’s relationship with the Israelite’s as well as the story of Hosea.
Reading about how the Israelite’s behaved and the amount of times God kept forgiving them blows my mind.
Not having children, I can’t quite comprehend how God extended so much love and grace to this city of disobedience.
Learning about Hosea marrying a prostitute, how she treated her husband, the amount of times she sinned, the amount of times he had to rescue her, bringing her back home and all the times he forgave his wife is almost unfathomable for my sinful human mind.
It’s story’s like that which put me in my place when I get caught up in the thought process of “Well I forgave them for this, this, that as well as those things. This however, I don’t see how I can forgive, especially when it keeps happening!”.
My friend gently reminded me of these stories when I was rambling on about all the tough things I’ve had to forgive for, all my “poor me” stories and all the walls I was hitting, not knowing if I could move forward.
My hurts were absolutely justified, however that does not give me a free pass to not forgive those “crossed the line, too frequent and too hurtful to forgive” moments.

Sometimes God does call us to end a relationship with someone who is unrepentant and reconciliation isn’t possible at the time.
This does not mean I’m off the hook though, we still have to forgive those people irregardless if the relationship is done or not.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do as Christian, yet it’s the most common action we must choose to do on a weekly, sometimes daily basis!
For the rest of our relationships that are not over, once we hit that wall where we aren’t sure if we can keep forgiving, we just simply must.
Especially when it comes down to our marriages, that is an absolute must and one of the hardest situations to be forgiving in.
“Forgiveness is loves toughest work and love’s biggest risk”.
It’s so true within a marriage, it’s a risk forgiving because we automatically think “what if it happens again?” or “what if they keep doing this?” and the truth is we just have to continually choose to have our moments to cry, then have our time to forgive.
Love is selfless, so after we wipe our tears we have to selflessly forget about our hurts and choose to forgive the person hurting us.
Marriage vows run deeper then just “I do”, it’s a true test of the love depicted in 1 Corinthians 13.

This week has been one of those weeks of many challenges paired with many lessons I quite frankly was not interested in learning.
In the midst of a storm the last thing most people want to do is be shown what they need to learn through it all. We, or at least I, tend to call out to God wondering where my compensation for my sufferings are, crying out to him just to simply cry about my life and to basically be told “it’ll be OK, I’ll get them back for you Erin”.
I’ve never really received any response to those conversations I attempt to have with Christ.
Instead, I’m faced with verses, books from the bible, stories, people are placed in my life, song lyrics or situations pop up that clearly are meant to humble my spirit and teach me a lesson.
Yes me, the person that’s hurt and at the end of my rope with spreading forgiveness like confetti.

It’s sad how in the midst of sorrow, how easy it is to remember the times I forgave and the individual that hurt me came on their own accord to apologize.
I get so caught up in the new hurts, the new disappointments, the new injustices placed in my life that I forget when God did what he’s best at doing and worked through the person that hurt me.
It doesn’t always happen, but it has many times for me, yet I forget.
Bitterness and self righteousness are so blinding.
It’s a cloud of smoke I have to constantly wave through to see the other side and see things more clearly.
It’s days like today where I try and gauge just how much, how long and how much more I have to forgive particular someone(s).
Much like Peter, whom I remind myself of, I too ask the Lord in certain situations if I can just forgive up to seven times? and God’s answer is absolutely not that, instead it’s always, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”.
I think for almost every Christian, it’s not so much about whether or not we have to forgive, the bible is pretty clear on that.
For me at least, it’s more so my struggle with how long must I keep putting up with certain behaviors for. I admit that.
So yes, even if someone has not apologized or worse, they don’t see any problem with their actions, or the worst is they know what they are doing is wrong yet they purposely aren’t recognizing their issues for self gain, I still have to forgive.
Even if I am being screwed over, I forget to let God deal with people, they’re punishments will come or else he will call them to repentance if they are willing.
When we run out of forgiveness and we don’t feel like throwing it around like confetti, God gives strength to forgive, forgive and forgive some more.
We don’t need to gauge our limit of forgiveness, we need to be willing to forgive ceaselessly and gauge-lessly.

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