From the desk of Lauren Palmer
Do you ever have a difficult time finding forgiveness–especially with someone who seems oblivious to the pain they caused or isn’t sorry for their behavior? Or what if they think you were in the wrong? What if they don’t care? How can anyone find forgiveness when justice hasn’t been served? When no apology was issued?
I have a couple of thoughts on this, but first, I want to share with you what my definition of forgiveness is. For me, forgiveness means getting back to place (mentally and emotionally) where I can show them love. And what is love? You probably know this one but I’ll define it for you as Paul does in 1 Corinthians:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps not records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
If I can get back to a place and show love toward the person who hurt me, I know I have found forgiveness. Now listen to this because it is important: For me, love does not necessarily mean “friendly.” When I look at the above definition, love looks like fairness, like righteousness. It really doesn’t have anything to do with being “nice.” If someone steals my watch, for example, I don’t believe I have to be best friends with them or even friendly acquaintances in order to have found forgiveness. I do, however, need to be able to treat them fairly, treat them in the manor defined above. Treating someone with disdain, anger, judgement or even hatred is a sure sign forgiveness hasn’t been found.
Last year a sweet friend told me about 2 forms of forgiveness, the first is “horizontal forgiveness”–when one person is wronged, the other person recognizes the hurtful behavior and whole-heartedly apologizes. Horizontal forgiveness, is typically easier to find because the process is shared by both parties when one party apologizes, and the other forgives.
The other is “vertical forgiveness”–when one person is wronged, the other person either doesn’t know or doesn’t care, and forgiveness must be found alone. Vertical forgiveness can be more challenging because the process is vertical. The wronged person must rise up and forgive without an apology to initiate the desire to forgive.
Whether dealing with horizontal or vertical forgiveness, the goal is to find the 1 Corinthians definition of love again. Forgiveness really doesn’t have anything to do with the offender or how contrite they are.
I want to share something with you Brian’s and my counselor shared with us years ago when we went through pre-marital counseling that I think is a very helpful description of forgiveness. You can print out this graphic, save it on your iPhone, Pin it on Pinterest, share it on Facebook or Instagram…whatever you need to do to remember these words.
Friend, I hope today’s post helps you find the forgiveness you need. It’s not for the other person. It’s for you. Have a blessed day.
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