Forgiveness is the worst.
Nothing is more painful than those three words flowing from my heart and out of my mouth…
I forgive you.
Especially when they don’t flow from my heart, but are only my lips moving, disagreeing with my heart because I don’t actually feel like forgiving.
And ESPECIALLY when no one has said “I’m sorry”.
Recently I’ve been experiencing some storms in a friendship. The kind of storms where you brace yourself, praying that things won’t be completely destroyed. That some recognizable pieces would remain by the time to storm subsides…if it ever does.
Things are said that can’t be taken back.
Love is retracted and in it’s place bitterness and resentment begins to take root.
You look at a relationship that once was a source of warmth and laughter, of safety, and of kindness….and all you have left are broken pieces.
With each hurtful comment, with each absence of presence and with each moment of withdraw, the storm rages on.
And that’s when I realized that I held the power of the storm in my ability to forgive.
That forgiveness takes a massive thundercloud of lightening and hail and turns it into a light sprinkle of rain. That the storm will be as long and as vicious as your heart allows it to be.
Which is why, I’m learning, that it is absolutely crucial to forgive as you go.
Not when the storm is over and your tally of wrong doings is longer than you can count. But along the way, with each hurtful moment, when you don’t hear an “I’m sorry” and you certainly don’t feel like forgiving.
Because if you don’t, little things are big things, and each injustices carries a new and heavier weight that is more than your weary heart can stand. If you don’t forgive as you go, it plugs the drain and the waters keeps rising, higher and higher, until you feel like you’re drowning.
In a way, forgiveness begins to set you free.
It begins to heal and mend, and soften the still present hurt. Not that the rain has stopped and the storms are over, but your heart doesn’t feel as heavy, and each moment doesn’t feel so brash and destructive.
Forgiveness works against anger becoming your method of communication. It relieves someone of their litany list of wrongs done to you, and actually gives your relationship a chance for redemption. And it prevents bitterness from taking root.
Because as the saying goes, bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
The other day my dad was praying and a simple line caught me. He prayed for us to “breathe in grace and breathe out praise.”
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
What we inhale affects what we exhale. In order for us to say things that are full of kindness, softness, and even praise, our breathing in has to be that of grace… of patience, of humility, and of forgiveness. If we’re not breathing in love, how can we breathe out anything else?
The storm hasn’t let up. The only actions you can control are your own. And I’ll spare you the cliché of “dance in the rain”, because when a relationship is facing the worst storms it’s ever seen, your feet…and your heart…don’t feel like dancing.
So instead, forgive.
Let go of each hurt, each injustice, each wrong that was done to you. Pray for forgiveness when you don’t feel it. Sometimes….often times… forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling.
Feelings may come in time, but it starts with a conscious decision to release someone from their debt owed to you. Their debt of apology or remorse or a different reality.
And pray for release when your heart doesn’t want to let go of your rights. Your right to be treated better or kinder or gentler. Your right to respect. Your right to a past the way your remember it.
Pray to let go…as you go.
Then spread your arms, feel the rain, and set your heart free.