How is Forgiveness Possible?

The most beautiful love story is between a soul and his or her maker—not between two human beings. Although the love between two human souls can be sweet and perfect and complete, in the best humanly possible way, it is still human. I speak from a position of being a very loved human being in a most fulfilling, satisfying and deeply loving marriage. I have had one of the best marriages possible, I believe.

But, the truth of a soul being loved by his/her maker surpasses a human soul being loved by another human soul. This truth has come slowly to me. It brings with it another truth—the truth about my response to people who have hurt me, and who continue to—they have not changed, nor do they seek forgiveness, nor are they sorry, nor do they treat me with any less contempt than they ever did.

As I slowly began to realize the love story between me and my maker, I began to see how I could love and pray for people who caused me deep wounds. This is something I have tried to do many times over several decades but somehow kept failing. I wanted to forgive them. I even had, as best I could, humanly speaking. This forgiveness would last for a while, then the decay of hurt would again eat away at me. I would compensate, because I didn’t want to feel badly about them, by reaching out to them, time and time again. I would take the blame for things that were not mine to take. I would do all of the things that we are instructed and supposed to do, with little or no progress in the relationships. I even tried “letting go” and “moving on” not contacting them or initiating contact. If we ran into each other, then I was friendly, even if they were not. But, truthfully, many of the ones who cause hurt are family members or near relatives. Remember that Jesus pointed this out in the book of Matthew—father and son, brother and brother, mother and daughter, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law—yes, those family relationships can be the most painful. So, “moving on” and “letting go” is a remote possibility. Holidays, birthdays, and all those family things are constant reminders and provide constant probability of contact. Even if our families are wonderful, there are those who have caused hurt who are close to us—school mates, teachers, preachers, fellow church members, etc. These are people whom we may not be able to avoid and “move on” from.

But now I know how forgiveness is possible. There is a love story between me and my maker. He knows. Knowing that He knows all of my hurt, and all of my efforts to do the right things to fix the problems, helps me just to lie back on Him and let Him know. He doesn’t even have to fix it. All He has to do is Know. And He does. And that’s enough for me.

You see, the inability to forgive, or the lack of forgiveness is a need for something. If someone needs affirmation from his/her father, then the child (especially adult children) has a very difficult time forgiving the father if he refuses to give that affirmation, or if he gives it only partially. If a mother refuses to give love, her teenaged and adult children will have a need for that love from a mother, and it will be a point of unforgiveness between them. If a person has been victimized, then the victim needs the perpetrator to understand the hurt and pain that was caused. The victim needs the perpetrator to be sorry for causing the pain. If the perpetrator refuses to acknowledge the pain he/she caused someone else, then the victim will not be able to forgive, as long as he/she has a need for that acknowledgement. If a bully causes degradation, embarrassment, or humiliation to someone, then the victim will not be able to forgive the bully unless the bully apologizes, acknowledges, and understands the humiliation, embarrassment, or degradation that he/she caused. Is this likely to happen? No. A bully is a bully. He/she will not see that he/she caused pain to the person who was bullied. There is not likely to be an apology. Can the victim ever forgive the bully then? As long as the victim needs something from the bully (i.e. an apology), there can be no real, long lasting forgiveness. As long as a victim needs justice and retribution for a criminal act, there can be no forgiveness. Should there be justice and retribution? Absolutely. For many reasons; however, as long as the victim needs that in order to forgive, there can be no forgiveness. If justice and retribution never come, because of a corrupted justice system, or for whatever other cause, can the victim forgive? I am finding out that as long as the victim needs something from the perpetrator, whatever it is, then no, forgiveness will not be theirs.

If we take all that we need from the Savior and Maker of our souls, then forgiveness can come to other humans who so miserably fail us and who even victimize us, some intentionally, others not intentionally. When I say “all that we need” what I mean is that the essence of our souls that requires understanding, love, apology, forgiveness, redemption, acknowledgement, affirmation, etc. to function as adults without leaving us with an empty feeling of unfulfillment, this must be taken from the Savior and Maker of our souls, not from another human being. It is impossible, and highly improbable that you will ever get that from another human being. Some humans can’t, and others won’t—but all will fail at some level. God will not fail you. He is the very creator of your soul. Your soul mirrors His. He is eternal and everlasting. He is the very essence of what makes you tick. Unless and until you take Him into your soul, you will want something from someone else. But, when you take Him in, you will never want again. He is all that you will ever need. Your forgiveness will be final. Your healing total.


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