FORGIVENESS: Infinitely More Than Just
Letting Someone OFF THE HOOK
November 20, 2019
Written by: Kaitlynn Zaenger
[ I forgive you. ]
I've said it, you've said it, we've all said it. Is it that simple, though? Is forgiveness just a word we throw around in casual conversation, or are its implications far more complex? Lexico, Oxford's free online dictionary, defines forgiveness as "the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven." The definition for forgive, however, gives us a closer look at what it really means: to "stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake." It seems simple enough, really.
You lied to me? I forgive you.
It's easy to forgive when the offense is something seemingly insignificant and unimportant. But what about when a parent abused you? Or when a spouse cheats on you? And what about when someone murders your family member? Are we so quick to forgive when the hurt pierces straight to our soul and affects our lives, day in and day out? Can we? Are we supposed to?
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The Bible doesn't say "except for when it's hard" or "except for when they do x, y, or z."
Now, you're probably thinking that I don't understand, that I don't know what they did. You might be thinking that it's too hard, it's just something you can't let go of. I do understand. I've been in your shoes. Many days, I still am in your shoes. Forgiveness isn't easy. Oftentimes, it's the hardest possible thing you can do. But forgiveness isn't for the other person. You're not "letting them off the hook." You're not telling them what they did is okay, and you're not giving them permission to do it again. What you are doing -- and this is so critically important to understand -- is acknowledging the pain they caused and allowing yourself to move forward. Holding onto a grudge will do nothing but cause you more pain and heartbreak (often more than the original offense).