Easter approaching is a powerful reminder to Christians of the ultimate sacrifice Christ made for us: the forgiveness of our wrong-doings. We hear the story of the Passion year after year, but if you’re like me, you might sometimes respond as though you’re learning it for the first time, especially knowing how often we fail and need to be forgiven.
Sometimes we’re so focused on Christ’s forgiveness for us that we lose sight of the other lesson His death and resurrection teaches us: that we also have access to the amazing power of granting forgiveness.
There are so many things we can do to help and support the people in our lives. We can love then, we can care for them, we can pray for them, and do things for them. We can listen to them or even hold them in their moments of fear and darkness. But I believe one of the most powerful things we can often do is forgive them.
There are two reasons for that. First, none of us is perfect. We may strive to be the best person possible, but somehow we’re going to fall short. Sometimes, we deliberately do things we know that we shouldn’t. Sometimes we neglect others without intending to do so or even noticing that it happened. The relationships we have with family, friends, co-workers, and all the others around us are inherently fragile and far too easily damaged, especially when those others fall short of the expectations we’ve created.
As a counselor, I hear it every day. Wives bemoan the fact that husbands won’t do what they “should” do. Kids won’t act like they’re supposed to. Children who have become adults are still angry over perceived slights that happened decades ago, so they remain estranged from their parents. Yes, the others in those relationships are far from perfect, but then again, so are we.
Forgiveness is a choice we make to give up the right for retribution. It doesn’t mean that you excuse or condone hurtful acts, but that you work at looking beyond them. And the sooner you forgive, the more time and opportunities you’ll have to restore the relationship.
The second reason forgiveness is so powerful is that it also heals us. When we forgive another, we begin to let go of the anger, the disappointment, and the other emotions that interfere with our own happiness. Instead of dwelling on what we cannot change — anything in the past — we begin to create a new future without those limits. Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s a choice. And sometimes, it’s a hard one.
This weekend, as you reflect on Christ’s gift of forgiveness to you, ask yourself how you would benefit from granting forgiveness to others. As difficult as it may be to offer, it’s certainly the right and best thing to do. I’ve seen forgiveness lead to some major life changes, and I want it to do the same for you.
If you’re not sure of what forgiveness means, find yourself not wanting to forgive someone else, or having difficulty holding a grudge, contact us.