“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.”
― G.K. Chesterton
If there’s anything we need more of in our homes, in our relationships, and in our world, it’s forgiveness. We’re surrounded by conflict, anger, hurt feelings, and difficult relationships. We need a few courageous people to show us what it’s like to be forgiving. I grew up in a house where forgiveness was the norm, so I’m one of the lucky ones. I never saw grudge holding or name calling or any of the kind of bitterness that tears families apart. I honestly can’t remember my mom speaking negatively or in anger towards the people in her life. Only now do I realize how rare a gift that is and how hard it is to actually do on a daily basis. It takes real courage—the kind of courage that most of us haven’t seen very much in action. Because you can preach all the sermons you want to your kids about their behavior, but in the end, they’ll probably do what you do—a sobering thought for most of us, or at least for me.
When Stevie and I first got married, we very rarely fought, but when we did, it would last for days. Days of misery, silence, and heartache. It was so hard for us to say I’m sorry. Why is it so hard to confess our faults to others? Why would we rather hold onto the misery of broken relationships? Because we like to be right. And we want justice more than we want love. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we really don’t want to get what we deserve. We want the people in our life to give us the benefit of the doubt, to be gracious to us, to know us so well that they know what we meant to do or say. After 13 years of marriage, I can tell you that we have learned to give each other the gift of forgiveness. A few months ago, we exchanged some unkind words before he left for work and he called me on the way to work to apologize. His willingness to be vulnerable, to be wrong, was such an act of love to me and it inspires me to do the same for him. It takes courage to forgive.
“Forgiving is love’s toughest work, and love’s biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love’s power to break nature’s rule.” ~Lewis B. Smedes
It is life’s toughest work, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t come easy. Cultivating a spirit of forgiveness in your home will take time and real effort and patience.
Do your children find it easy to confess their wrongdoing to you or do they hide their faults? Are you quick to say I’m sorry and quick to forgive or do you hold on to wrong done toward you for far too long? Sew the seeds of forgiveness in your life and you will find that what blooms in your own heart will be rare and beautiful. Holding onto bitterness chokes out joy and forgiveness is the key to unlocking peace, harmony, and love in your life. What is choking out your joy today?
Day 3 Assignment: We’ve all been on the receiving end of wrongdoing and sometimes that wrongdoing is incomprehensible. For most of us though, the offenses done to us by others on a daily basis are minor. But when those build for weeks and months and years, they become toxic and not dealing with it now sets you up for unexpected outbursts of anger and resentment later. Someone has probably already come to mind that you need to forgive or that you need to *let off the hook*. Identify one person who has wronged you and become a source of bitterness in your life. Write a letter detailing what you are angry about and how that hurt you. End the letter by writing down how you intend to let go of your bitterness, and by telling that person you will be praying for them daily. Don’t send the letter, but make a commitment to pray for that person everyday this month.
Be sure to read Ruth’s Day 3, on Less Bitterness
We couldn’t be happier to have Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom joining our challenge this month! Be sure to check out her wisdom and insight on less fear and more courage from yesterday’s challenge.
Who needs the gift of your forgiveness today?
Continue the series with Day 4: Less Comparison, More Self-Confidence.