The topic of forgiveness can quickly become overly heavy and difficult.
Sometimes, by just hearing the word, my memory kicks into full gear. The heart-pounding emotions of yesterday’s hurtful events can sap my energy or re-break my heart. Without much prompting, my mind flies down a spiderwebbed, dusty, dark tunnel to places I might not want to see or be ready to process.
It is not necessarily that I harbor unforgiveness as much as the word itself reminds me of the long, hard journey of pain, forgiveness, reconciliation, reconnection and so on. The memories are there long after the forgiving words are spoken and the prayer has been prayed.
The memories can lay dormant. Quieted. Until a sermon on forgiveness or a blog post on the topic pops up in my news feed.
Are you there with me?
Did your mind go somewhere?
Do you feel the heaviness of the journey?
What did the word forgiveness spark in your heart?
But as I get older, I’m learning to pull back the heaviness. I’m learning to turn on the light, let myself remember and go there in my heart.
In doing so, I can see hundreds of different situations from my childhood until now. Complex stories, woven and twisted. Each moment was extremely hard to walk through. Many situations required forgiveness… on my part or from someone else.
Some situations were settled in prayer. Some in conflict. Some in walking away. Some without resolution.
Yet, by pulling back the heaviness, I can see one moment after another lined up to create who I am today.
I read this quote recently from Norman Cousins. He said, “Life is an adventure in forgiveness.”
And I quite agree with him.
Our lives are made up of stories and conflicts and challenges and struggles and circumstances.
Because they are part of real, genuine life being lived out, these stories will include intrigue, mystery, joy, pain, love and sorrow. Our days will need and require forgiveness.
We need forgiveness from God, from ourselves, and from the other real people living real life in this big world.
Real life really is one big adventure in forgiveness.
I’d rather see the adventure in the light. I want to keep looking up, trust that God’s working and move forward knowing that I’ll need forgiveness again tomorrow.
Another adventure in forgiveness is waiting to come my way.
Barbara Kingsolver wrote, “What a rich wisdom it would be, and how much more bountiful a harvest, to gain pleasure not from achieving personal perfection but from understanding the inevitability of imperfection and pardoning those who also fall short of it.”
This adventure in forgiveness is an inevitable part of life.
We are imperfect and the people walking life with us are also imperfect. There is pleasure to be found in realizing that and anticipating the act of forgiving.
Corrie ten Boom correctly stated that “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
Oprah added, “True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.”
Being thankful, daily, for another life experience, another adventure in forgiving.
Martin Luther King reminded us of this by saying, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
John Piper further lifts the heaviness with his words, “There is hope in forgiveness.”
I love how Christine Caine tells us how to adventure in forgiveness. She says, “No matter what circumstances we might face in life, it is possible for us to overcome in the midst of them by taking hold of God’s thoughts.”
Daily, taking hold of God’s thoughts. Seeing each day as an adventure in forgiveness and an opportunity to overcome.
After all, as Ann Voskamp wrote, “Who would ever know the greater graces of comfort and perseverance, mercy and forgiveness, patience and courage, if no shadows fell over a life?”
It is the shadows, the heaviness, the difficulties and realities of life that give us these moments of adventure.
Mark Twain once said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Our adventures in forgiveness can be a beautiful, refreshing, relaxing aroma to the world around us. It can also be evidence of God’s forgiving heart and give us the ability to show what forgiveness is all about to a world in desperate need of an example.
Andrew Murray wrote, “Our forgiving love toward men is the evidence of God’s forgiving love in us.”
But heed this warning from Neil T. Anderson. He said, “Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving; you will never get there.”
Don’t wait to lift the heaviness. Don’t wait to shine light in the dark places of your heart. Don’t continue to let the circumstances pile up along the dark tunnels of your mind.
If you wait for the right moment, the right opportunity, the right time to forgive… well, it might not come.
An adventure in forgiveness comes when you lift the heaviness, forgive, and let go.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Acts 3:19
How are you adventuring in forgiveness?
Are you ready to lift the heaviness?