Someone on Facebook mentioned forgiveness and it reminded me that some people have yet to learn the secret of forgiveness. So, yes, I’m going to let you in on it. But first I have to tell you what happened at the magic show yesterday.
The older students in the other building put on a magic show and invited us to see it. The room was dim. There was fog and music for further distraction. But my children still figured out that “the girl that disappeared from the box” was really just moved to the back of the stage. They had to tell me all about their brilliant deduction when we got back to the room. They were so proud of themselves for figuring it out!
For most people forgiveness is like that… all “smoke and mirrors”…like magic. They assume two false things: 1. If they forgive someone, that person will change their behavior. Forgiveness becomes almost a controlling mechanism. If I forgive you, then you’d better cooperate and do better! 2. If they forgive someone, that person will be grateful. Hey, I’m doing you a favor here, I don’t have to forgive you!
I’ve heard many people complain about forgiving someone else, especially a family member, who then goes back to repeating the same sin, over and over. There is an expectation that if you discuss something and the other person admits it and then you forgive it, there will be a change in the other person. Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if it were that simple? Alcoholism- forgiven and gone from their life. Drug addiction- forgiven and gone. Adultery- forgiven and gone. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. No, it’s all about me.
If I forgive someone, I’m supposed to be the one who changes. I change my perspective, my understanding, my tolerance, my acceptance, and my relationship with the other person. I get rid of my resentment, my judgment, and my superior attitude. I forgive them because I have my own sins to work on. I forgive them because I can’t focus my life on changing someone else’s. I forgive them so I can either do the real work of helping them in ways that they want to be helped, or separate from them and help someone else.
It is also sad that some people are not grateful for my forgiveness, nor do they really want to change, nor do they honestly care what I think. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should not continue to nag them about it. Forgiveness is tied to that other word…forget. Forgetting has led me to two actions. There are some people in my life who have done things in the past that have hurt me deeply. However, I love them and value our relationship enough to forgive them, forget that experience, and go on with the rest of our lives together. There are others, just a few, that I’ve had to walk away from. I’ve forgiven them and forgotten them. They were just such toxic influences on my life that I couldn’t sustain the relationship with them, regardless of blood ties or past experience.
I’m probably wrong about so many things. My report card in heaven will no doubt contain some Cs and Ds. But I know that Jesus will forgive and forget. He will have other things for me to do besides sit around and ponder what I did wrong down here. And we should have better things to do than ponder what our friends and family members have done wrong.
Forgive. Forget. Get on with living your life.