rose and word sorry

Forgiveness – the Gift that Keeps on Giving!

 December 9, 2022

What do you give that hard to buy for person on your list? Or what do you give yourself? If I told you there was a gift with a guaranteed positive return for years, where you would get more than you gave, you’d be interested, right? Well, there is. That gift is forgiveness – the gift that keeps on giving.

Don’t Rush Forgiveness

You might say, how can you ask me to forgive the bully that terrorized me throughout middle school? Or the sibling that teased relentlessly? Or an abusive spouse?

Let me begin by stating forgiveness is not to be rushed or forced. You can’t forgive until you are ready to do so. To tell someone they need to forgive an abuser before the abuse has stopped and healed is another form of abuse. To try to force someone to forgive past hurts that have not been acknowledged and healed is harmful and ineffective.

You can’t forgive someone until you are ready and no amount of pushing by others, or even yourself, can change that. Before you can forgive someone the extent of the harm needs to be acknowledge and worked through. Only then can you forgive. This is a process that takes time and can’t be rushed. However, there are ways you can help this process.

Openness is Everything

Sometimes just being open to forgiveness is enough. If we open that door and allow for possibility of letting forgiveness into our hearts, God will do the rest.

This means we don’t have to feel forgiveness before taking that first step. Just ask for God’s help.

Forgiveness is a gift from God and a gift we give ourselves. We don’t do it for the other person, though when we do accept sincere apologies for past offenses and forgive, it is a gift we give to that person.

The Hardest Person to Forgive is Ourselves

More often than not, though, the hardest person to forgive is ourselves. We readily forgive others because “that’s the Christian thing to do,” while we hold on to hardness against ourselves. We may be easier on others out of an excess of pride rather than true humility.

Out of pride, we refuse to allow ourselves to be human. We think we are better than others. Others may act in petty and spiteful ways, but we deny our own pettiness because we think we are better than that. Others might be greedy and grasping, but we fail to acknowledge our own tendency toward greed, maybe not hording money but hording our time and talents rather than using them to build up the community.

I continue to be amazed at the mean spirit that can creep into my daily interactions. I can be generous—as long as it’s on my own terms. St. Francis, I’m not! But I’ve learned to acknowledge how far I am from being the kind, Christian person I strive to be and to forgive myself for my failings.

To be human means we are fallible and prone to error and sin. We constantly make mistakes, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and find ourselves in need of forgiveness. Once we learn to forgive ourselves, forgiveness of others will come more naturally.

Forgiveness – the Gift that Keeps on Giving!

True forgiveness isn’t cheap. It costs us something. We have to give up ways of thinking and being. We have to be willing to acknowledge our own sins and errors and admit how imperfect we are. But it is well worth the cost, because, after all, it is forgiveness – the gift that keeps on giving.

This Christmas, why not gift yourself and your loved ones with forgiveness.

What has been your experience of forgiveness? Do you find it hard to allow yourself to be human?


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