Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What does "forgive" really mean?

As an English major, it's kinda of "my thing" to know what words mean. For instance...

verb (used with object) grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve. give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
3. to grant pardon to (a person).
4. to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.
(found at

As a Christian, I understand this word in a different way than just the clinical definition.

1 John 1:9
-- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But as a person? I have trouble with it.
There is a situation right now in my life that requires forgiveness. A big ole' bucket o
f it.
And I am having a hard time pouring that forgiveness out.

In my head I say, "But if I forgive this, it looks like I'm agreeing with the action. It looks like I'm saying, 'No hard feelings, let's be besties always!' or 'Why didn't I think to do it that way? Brilliant!' "
All of these thoughts were so far from where my mind was on the matter.
I could accept the new situation. I could even to a point understand the path that was chosen. But forgive-like-I-was-OK-with-the-choice? So not there.

Until I talked to my friend. My trusted friend. My friend who I can go without weeks talking to (but would never WANT to) and still be able to confide in her and talk and laugh. She is that kind of an amazing, only ever gonna have one or two of them in your life, hang-on-to-for-dear-life kind of friends.

She simply said: Forgiveness doesn't mean what's done is right.

Can that be it?


Because what she said was so totally the Biblical way to think of things. Take the verse I quoted above. The sin that we confess, does Jesus ever say it is right? Nope. In Romans, there is so much time spent of calling sin what it really is, not sugar coating it or trying to justify it. It exists. It is part of us. And it is a problem. But we are also promised forgiveness for it. Does forgiveness make it right? No. It makes it forgiven. Jesus still calls sin "sin." It is still something that needs to be confessed, needs to be made right. Once it is, Jesus doesn't dwell on it. It is done. Forgiven & forgotten, because that is His way.

And you are saying right now, "Laura, that was really obvious. I mean really really obvious."
Yes. Yes it is. But sometimes new situations throw me for a loop. If it doesn't fit the formula, sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Even for myself, I have a hard time believing the "confessed, forgiven, forgotten" thing. I think that if I still remember my shortcomings, Jesus must too. Sometimes I think I humanize Jesus a little too much. Yes, He was God and Man, but He was perfect. That means when He says that forgiven sin is forgotten sin, He isn't lying. I think for my situation I was somewhat getting the forgive part down, but totally NOT the forgetting. I would say in my head that I forgave, but constantly was rehashing the whole situation in my head, constructing arguments and debates justifying my anger, my hurt.

My friend's words echoed in my head for days. And I think, maybe, I've reached forgiveness. It took me a while. It was hard. I'm still not sure I can understand it all the way. But if Jesus can forgive and forget my sins, that is one area in my life where I want to work to be like Him.


Sarah said...

I would also like to add that forgiveness might be a process...because we're not God; we're human and we might need to free ourselves from the bitterness that comes from unforgiveness in the SAME situation many times.
It's ok. If you have to do that, you haven't failed.
You're actually doing a beautiful and redemptive thing.
Just wanted to add that in case you run into that kind of situation and could use a little encouragement.
Love you:-).

Sonya said...

I'm proud of you!!