I’ve never met someone who was like “Oh yeah, I forgave that person and it was a piece of cake.” I wish that was the case. But the truth is, it’s a pretty tough choice.
Forgiveness is unique in every situation. There are moments of forgiveness where someone apologizes and you have to forgive them out of Biblical duty (maybe even grudgingly, but you know deep in your heart that it’s the right thing to do). And then there are other times when true strength is revealed by having to forgive someone who isn’t sorry – with no apology ever received from them.
I have learned this lesson several times throughout my young life. Instances have occurred where I felt betrayed or taken advantage of, and very often the person who caused the hurt knew how it affected me, yet never apologized or even admitted to their actions.
And it sucks.
Because not only did I have to focus on healing, but also on letting go of any bitterness I felt towards the person who hurt me. But forgiveness is part of the healing.
Read that again.
Because without forgiveness, you will be stuck in the endless cycle of bitterness and anger – which can very easily grow into hatred. And I promise you… this will hinder your healing journey more than you may realize.
But starting with forgiveness will promote the healing process and be the best foundation to moving past your hurt.
I’m a very visual person when it comes to reminders. I love making lists. I place things in certain areas through my house (or car even!) that will remind me to do this or that. I link certain reminders to songs. I’ll pray for a certain person throughout my day to remind me to text them when I have a chance. I also place a lot of significance in physical signs throughout my spiritual journey.
(I promise I have a point to all of this…)
I had been praying for something significant to become the sign for “forgiveness”. In my healing process, it’s important for me to remember to give grace to those who have hurt me. I had been praying that the LORD would reveal that specific sign to me. Something tangible, something I could see. And I told myself that once I established what that sign was, that every time I saw it, I would pray for the one who hurt me, and say “I forgive you” out loud. Words are powerful. And vocalizing your thoughts gives them existence.
For my birthday weekend this year, I roadtripped to central Oregon with my Mama to see two of the 7 Wonders of our beautiful state. On my birthday, as we were driving to the Painted Hills, I saw a brush fire in the field parallel to the road we were on. There was no one attending the fire, no one guiding its blaze. The weather hadn’t been dry enough for it to catch fire on its own. I was puzzled by the cause of it, and why no one was trying to put it out.
This sparked the memory of a sermon I heard once on the beauty of wildfires. Wildfires burn down forests, consuming everything its path, and by doing so, it makes the ground fertile. It prepares the earth for new growth, to make ready for something beautiful.
The painful experiences in our lives – the wildfires – are moments of preparation for breakthrough.
So now, every time I see smoke – from an open fire, from a BBQ, from a chimney, when a candle gets blown out, or even from a cigar – I will pray for you. And as the smoke travels to evaporate into the atmosphere, I will let you go. Even when the tears sting my eyes, and my heart starts to remember the pain you caused in my life, I will give you grace.
Recently, I started a new meditation series by Danny Silk called “Finding Your Why”. In it, he asked the meditator “Who are you?” He said that the classic response is one’s occupation – mom, dad, student – or what they did for a living – barista, engineer, teacher. The first responses that came to my mind were “A forgiven human…a wild soul.”
And find your own smoke signal of forgiveness.
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