[serialposts]I had bruised her heart and battered our friendship without reason, other than the immature excuse: “That was what everyone else was doing.” When it finally came time to back away from that swirling group of toxic and all of the same accusations and actions of hate were thrown my direction, I finally understood what she had felt. I knew that we had been very wrong; I had been wrong. As a part of the healing journey, I knew I had to make amends.

It was not surprising when she refused to answer my phone call. I would not have wanted to talk to me either. When I couldn’t get through I sent her an email. And the journey of understanding began…

We were finally able to connect. I apologized and asked for her forgiveness. It would have been completely understandable if she had laughed and hung up the phone, but she said something that I continue to carry with me: She affirmed that I had already been forgiven.

She forgave me before I even asked, before I had the chance to apologize.
She forgave me before I thought about asking.
She forgave me before I prayed seeking God’s guidance.
She forgave me before I picked up the phone.

I didn’t deserve her forgiveness, but she gave it.
Reconciliation was beyond my thought of possibility, but it was happening.

God can redeem the most broken places in our lives if we are willing to 1. See our past and present in truth, and 2. do the hard work of allowing God to make them right.

I think that we misunderstand the differences between forgiveness, trust and reconciliation. We believe that in order to forgive someone we have to trust them. Or that in order to forgive we must be reconciled to each other. Understanding the difference has helped my own understanding of relationships.

No longer am I consumed by guilt when a relationship does not end in reconciliation and peace between parties. While these may be God’s ideal sometimes relationships should not exist between people who are toxic together. While I may be able to forgive the past and the present without someone asking for it, or even recognizing that they need to be forgiven, there is much that determines the outcome of reconciliation and possibly a new beginning of trust.

So many times we want to rush the process… when it is a process.

We believe that if someone will just forgive us then we can move on and be friends again. Just because you forgive someone does not mean you are going to skip down a path together, holding hands and sharing your deepest secrets. Forgiveness takes one person… that is just me or just you before God.

I do not need to hear your apology to forgive you. There are many layers to the singular act of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is first and foremost my heart before God. I forgive so that I can be forgiven. So that I can receive the forgiveness of Christ and not second guess him. I forgive to be whole. I do not forgive because you need me to, or because it is the right thing to do… I forgive because of myself and God. He asks me to forgive, so I learn to forgive. He hears and understands the lists that I might not ever show you while teaching me how to release them.

“…person with no forgiveness in heart live in worse punishment then death.” -Mr. Miyagi (Karate Kid, Part II)

He meets me in the anguish, sorrow, disgust, fear, pain, grief and I am changed. Forgiveness breaks the bonds of what has held me so that God can hold me.

Forgiveness isn’t about you. It’s about me.

My friend’s forgiveness was about her being whole before God… she did not need me to accomplish that, they did that work together.

 What have you learned about forgiveness?

the hard work of forgiveness [part one]

by J. K. McGuire time to read: 3 min