When I was in high school, I had a situation I dealt with that taught me the importance of forgiveness. Let me preface this story by saying that I’m no longer holding onto this situation, except for the lesson I learned through it.
I was in a relationship at a very young age and like any young teenager, being in a relationship was my first real impactful life experience. It wasn’t a horrible relationship, to begin with, but then towards the middle of it (sophomore year), reality started hitting hard. High school relationships are very similar to elementary school relationships. Yes, you like a person, but you aren’t really thinking of the future with this person… FOR SOME PEOPLE.
I was already invested in this relationship with pretty much everything I had. Then I was blindsided by betrayal. My best friend at the time was basically “talking” (what kids at that time called “dating” “seeing each other”) to my then-boyfriend.
Yes, all the drama and heartbreak took place, and it hurt. Yeah, it was an on-again, off-again relationship from that point on. But that’s not the point of the story.
I carried the remnants of that betrayal for the remainder of the relationship with my then-boyfriend (about 5 years).
Things didn’t work out, and I found myself hurting and holding the worst grudge against my former friend.
Can you guess what that did to me? I became bitter. I became hateful. I became closed off. I became suspicious of others who wanted to be my friend. I lost a lot of time and energy because I was wasting my brain capacity and heart capacity to what had happened to me for so long before.
I didn’t know that what was keeping me that way was my grudge toward this girl. But how could I have forgiven her if I didn’t know exactly what the deal was with me internally? So I started praying because I didn’t like who I had become.
What is Forgiveness?
Let me give you the dictionary definition of forgiveness…
FORGIVENESS: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven
That’s easier to read than to actually put into action. I found myself holding onto something that this girl probably had moved passed way before me. I legitimately hated this girl for betraying me as a friend. I knew I did. Then my heart started softening after a few trips to my church where the message I was listening to was about- you guessed it- FORGIVENESS.
The definition of forgiveness went from the action or process of forgiving, to the REALITY that I had been forgiven at such a deeper level. The message was focused on how hating a person is a sin. Also mentioned was that forgiveness couldn’t be attained if forgiveness was not given. Then there it was.. in big neon lights….
I WAS FORGIVEN WHILE I WAS STILL UNFORGIVABLE.
Through Jesus and His death and resurrection, I was allowed to be forgiven if I wanted it. I wanted to be forgiven, but I knew deep down inside of my own heart that I couldn’t accept forgiveness if I wasn’t willing to forgive someone over something that seemed so minuscule.
Benefits of Forgiveness
Then I did the unthinkable. I reached out to this girl, three years after high school. No communication since sophomore year, then there I was on Facebook searching for her and sending her a message. I said something along the lines of:
I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I hated you for what happened in high school. I’m sorry that I never gave you a chance to tell your side of the story. I’m sorry that I didn’t give you a second and third chance the way I gave him. All I want is your forgiveness for holding onto a grudge for so long.
Three things happened as I was typing that message.
- Freedom was taking place. Freedom of the grudge I allowed to take over my being. Freedom to be vulnerable and humbled by the whole situation. Freedom to say “the ball is in her court now”. Freedom to LET IT GO!
- Love also took place. I was able to extend love to this person who had hurt me so badly at one point in time. I was able to display love to another human being.
- Reconciliation also occurred during this. After having sent the message, I received a message back also where she was apologizing. She apologized that she had done what she did, even though I was there for her during a relationship she was having problems in. At the end of it all, we didn’t become best friends again, but we were able to move past it. Reconciliation took place between us as well as within myself.
- Restoration. I felt restored in that I had let go of what I had no idea was even holding me down. I felt “normal” finally. I felt happier and honestly, relieved. Being able to take a step of faith and not knowing what would happen when I sent that message, allowed me to restore my faith in God. I was able to see why God wants forgiveness because so much more stems from that one act towards another person.
At the end of the day, I found that forgiving someone for something regardless of how long ago they hurt me, released me from the hatred and hurt I was holding onto for so long.
Are you holding onto something that happened a long time ago? What’s stopping you from letting it go? If I can encourage you in anything today, let it be this, you have to let it go FOR YOU! It’s time to let it go.. today.