What am I thankful for?
Have you ever seen the movie "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West"? In it there's a line (or part of a line) by a character called Wylie Burp (voiced by Jimmy Stewart) that goes like this, "...one man's sunset is another man's dawn." I think forgiveness is like that. I'll try to explain.
|Beach Sunset, 2008|
....and rises in the east.
|Winter Sunrise, 2009|
When it is turning to day here, it is turning to night elsewhere. When one day ends, another begins. Forgiveness is like that because, until forgiveness happens, you are stuck in the moment of the indiscretion and not able to move forward. You are stuck in perpetual night or a nightmarish day without end.
Forgiveness works for both the one seeking forgiveness and the one granting it. For the one seeking it, he is looking for his sunset: his way to put an end to the past and move on. He wants to move past the hurts, but cannot until the offended party agrees to it. No one can force you to forgive someone who has offended you, but (since we've all been guilty of being the offender) I think we all should forgive, not only for their sake, but for ours. No one is asking you to forget or to act like it didn't happen, but you won't be able to move on either if you let bitterness reign in your heart instead of forgiving them.
For the one granting the forgiveness, even if it is not sought out by the offender, you are looking for your sunrise: your way to start fresh and new. You want to leave the darkness of the hurt behind and focus on the brightness of the promise of a new day. By forgiving, not only do you allow the one who hurt you to move on, but you also allow yourself to move on. You refuse to play the victim role, but instead take on the role of survivor. You break any power the hurt had over you because you choose to say, "I forgive you."
Now, you might be thinking, "You don't know what happened to me!" You're right. I don't. But I do know what I've been through in my life. I do know what I've forgiven. You'd be surprised maybe, and I won't get into it here, but you can email me if you're curious. Why did I forgive people that hurt me so badly? Well, God says we should, but also because I was tired of letting the offenders win.
They'd forgotten about me and the hurt they caused me long ago. They'd stop caring about what I thought the moment they hurt me in the way they did. Why, then, would I continue to let what they did dictate my happiness? Why would I continue to let them hurt me by dwelling on what they did? It was silly. It was wrong. And in truth, I felt sorry for them. I thought, how awful did their lives have to be in order for them to be so horrible to me?
It wasn't easy, but I did eventually (with God's help) forgive them. I asked God to help me move past the hurt, to help the offenders find a way to change, to help them not to hurt anyone else how they hurt me...To give me the strength to forgive...and move on. I still remember, there are scars, but the power and control they had is gone. I am free.
When I think about not wanting to forgive, I remember what God did for me. His Son died for me, for the world - a world that hates Him, mocks Him. God watched as His Son was beaten and accused of things HE DID NOT DO and He watched Him die...for me. He LET Him die...for me. He did it so that I could live with Him and because sin has a price that must be paid and Christ was the only One capable of paying the bill in full. He let His perfect Son take my place. I know how wicked and rotten I can be...and I KNOW that my sin helped nail Jesus to the cross, and His love for me )for all of us) despite it all, kept Him there. If God can forgive me for my part in that, if He can welcome me with open arms, if He can love me that much, if He can do all that for me, I can certainly forgive ANY offense to my person. Nothing can be worse than that.
So today I am grateful for forgiveness. I am grateful God can forgive my sins. I am grateful for anyone who has ever forgiven me. I am grateful I can forgive others who have offended me. Forgiveness grants freedom to both parties - freedom to live again - and I would not want to live in a world without it.
May you have an amazing weekend!
~ What are you grateful for? ~
If you have a moment, please stop by my Twenty-Two Days of Thanks page (it's the bottom link in the left sidebar) and leave a comment or link-up a post that talks about something you're thankful for. I'd love to hear from you!