How do we forgive? Is there a magic formula to forgiveness? Why is it harder to forgive sometimes than others? Is there a time factor in this magic formula?
I was asked not too long ago, how did I forgive a person in my life who brought so much pain and suffering. My first inclination was, “Mmm, I’m not quite sure. It just happened some how.” I’ve had some time to reflect on it a bit recently.
The more I ask myself about forgiveness, I can only come to one conclusion – LOVE. It’s love in 2 dimensions. The first dimension of this love is the love that God poured out on the cross, His Divine Mercy. The second is accepting that love and mercy that He freely gives us, knowing that we don’t deserve it but He still offers it. I think once you have knowledge of that love and receive it in it’s entirety, you can offer that love and mercy to anyone through forgiveness. It doesn’t remove the event or circumstance but it does offer healing of the wound(s). Since we are not perfect, it may take longer and be harder in different circumstances. But as long as we have knowledge of God’s love and mercy and accept it, forgiveness is possible in any circumstance.
In the book, “Unbound”, the author talks about the parable where the king cancels the servants debt after he begs him to be merciful. Later the servant punishes another servant who owes him a debt for not being able to pay it, instead of showing mercy as the king showed him. What is brought to light by Jesus through this parable is that for us to be merciful to others, to forgive others, we must first receive that mercy. In the parable, the first servant truly did not receive that mercy and was not able to provide mercy to the other servant who owed him money.
In order to receive the mercy God gives us, we must receive His love, the love He offered us through salvation on the cross. This has to come through a relationship with God, through Christ. If we don’t have a relationship with Him, receiving this love and mercy is impossible. It’s one thing to know Him, to read the Bible and walk the walk but to have an intimate relationship is a different level that goes deeper within our hearts. It opens our hearts to receive and pour out love. That’s how we forgive others.