I remember when I finally had forgiven my daughter’s father. It had been one of the most challenging battles I had faced as a Christian. I knew forgiveness was what I should do, but there was no part of me that felt like forgiving him. He didn’t deserve forgiveness, he wasn’t even sorry for the things he had done.
I think that is where so many of us get caught up. We attach our act of forgiving to a set of circumstances. Are they sorry? Have they admitted what they did? Do they act remorseful? I’m sure our criteria are as unique as each individual struggling with forgiveness. It took me a long time to get to the freedom of forgiving, even though he was never sorry. And it was every ounce of the word freedom. I could think of him without becoming engulfed in rage. I could answer my daughter’s questions without that pit in my stomach ablaze with hate. It was peace beyond my own understanding, and a freedom from something that was stealing my joy, destroying my calm, and at times making me question my walk. When I had reached that place, that victorious top of the mountain place, I was certain that I had achieved the refining that I needed… at least in that area.
Since then I have had my share of forgiving those who weren’t sorry as well as those who were. I would remind myself of the words Jesus spoke in Matthew 6, “for if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”. That Scripture alone brought an urgency to forgiveness. It removed any debate and solidified this non-negotiable requirement to the faith walk. And you would think after accomplishing a task as forgiving the father of your child, who wreaked havoc on her heart, and remains moments away yet a stranger to her face; everything else would be addressed with ease.
However I write this amidst another life lesson. And unfortunately, as most life lessons, it hurts. I have learned that there is no full achievement in the refinement of who we are in Christ, even in specific areas of our lives like forgiveness. As I struggle forgiving someone who isn’t truly sorry I find there are layers upon layers to this refining in Christ thing. As Meek said, there’s levels to this. Growth in one area, even when conquering your biggest battle yet, does not mean total graduated achievement. No, there is obviously so much more refinement to be gained. I write this not to be deflating but encouraging. See if we can understand that we are a constant, ever-developing work-in-progress, offers a reassurance of His grace and an exciting expectation of what is to come. There will be moments when you think…”seriously Lord”, I thought I dealt with this already, why am I back here in this place. It doesn’t mean you haven’t grown, it doesn’t mean you have disappointed the One who holds no expectation. No, it simply means you are facing another layer, another level of this ever developing journey of sanctification.