The Journey Toward Forgiveness
Are any of you going on a road trip this summer? Many of us will be traveling to different places over the next couple of months. Summer brings all sorts of journeys. So does life. This summer, we will be sharing a series of blog posts about the journeys we find ourselves on as we follow Christ. Today's post is about the journey toward forgiveness.
Hurt people hurt people.
We’ve all heard it before — that explanation for another’s behavior. That justification for wound-inflicting words. That “place of acceptance” begging us to extend grace. We’ve walked the road of forgiveness only to walk it again. Have you gone on the journey twice — or maybe several times — because you can’t quite dwell at the destination? Because your heart’s so restless you can’t rest in that renewed place? It’s like we’re all travelers clutching our own bags — our own baggage — back on that same path to letting go.
But the road toward forgiving yourself, well, it may be the hardest journey of all. We cry at being the victim, but the shame of being the perpetrator is so very heavy. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you might hear. We even whisper it to ourselves to numb the shame, Hurt people hurt people.
But we were made for more.
We hurt, and our pain can get the best of us, dulling us to all things beautiful. And when we can’t find beauty, our souls wrestle in angst, and our mouths just sort of follow. And we lose perspective. And we mindlessly react. At least I do. Finally, Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:8, Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, a humble mind.
Peter, the former racist. Peter, the one with a crazy temper. Peter, the wound-giver. The guy you would have wanted to avoid collapsed into grace and started challenging us to live in community. Have you chosen to talk when you should have remained silent? Have your grumbly thoughts ever spilled onto others? We feel relief for a second before we’re carrying the burden again for days. Complaining is exhausting. Grumbling is draining.
Has Satan made his way into your “authenticity”? He weaves himself into my conversations and before I know it, he’s blown everything out of proportion. And yes, I’m trying to be real, but if I don’t watch it, my enemy even distorts that, too. My fleeting moment of venting wasn’t so fleeting after all. And I find myself worshiping what I complain about.
In these moments, my realness, my transparency, is doing anything but fostering unity and sympathy and love and tenderness and humility. My words hang out there, picked up by whomever is hungry, and then twisted and repackaged and delivered to a whole new crowd. Unity and sympathy and love and tenderness and humility — its all so random. But maybe not. When we take a risk and dare to heap on sympathy and love, somehow unity is unavoidable. Our eyes open to the big picture, and our quiet rage and unforgiving spirits and grumbly hearts don’t seem so useful anymore. They’re revealed as tools to help others lose perspective, too.
It’s hard to discipline our minds, to hold fast to the larger perspective, and to be led by humility. But in those moments, I’ve found sympathy and love and tenderness for others in the deepest places of my heart.
Hurt people hurt people.
Yes, we’ve been hurt. And yes, we’ve done the hurting. But by His wounds we are healed, and He heals those we’ve hurt, too. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for the cross.
We may just journey on that road toward forgiveness an entire lifetime. There’s always something to forgive. Always. But the longer we travel, the more resting we learn. There are crevices of His grace to be discovered, wooing us to linger in His restoration and pause in His redemption. A little longer each time.
Christan Perona is a member of Greentree Community Church, together with her husband and two children. She works at Central Christian School, a racially and socio-economically diverse academy in St. Louis. She is passionate about ethnic and cultural diversity, passionate about understanding how much we have to learn from those different from us. This blog post was originally published here.
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