Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.
Forgiveness is an often misunderstood condition of the heart. Yes, I said it is a condition of the heart - for the heart is made up of our mind (the place we trap all those thoughts of being wronged), the will (the thing that makes us stand firm in our bitterness even when we see how miserable it is making our life), and our emotions (the very things that are constantly being played upon by our bitterness). It is the heart that holds on and it is the heart that lets go - let's learn to let go a bit more than we hold on.
“Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him. If he responds, forgive him. Even if it’s personal against you and repeated seven times through the day, and seven times he says, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,’ forgive him.” (Luke 17:3-4)
There is no peace without forgiveness - those words should resonate with us each and every day. There is no peace in our hearts without the forgiveness of God - wiping away every stain of sin in our lives. There is no peace in our hearts or minds as long as we hold offenses and grudges - it isn't the other guy's heart or mind affected as much as it is our own! Our Lord was quick to remind us there is a need to be alert, because grudges are easier to hold onto than we expect. Forgiveness may mean we erase a 'debt' - something we think we are 'owed' in a situation - but it is that very 'debt' that will hold us captive.
Forgiveness isn't a one time deal anymore than grace is! You and I need God's grace poured into our lives daily (and most of us need it moment by moment). Why would we believe forgiveness would just be a one time deal? People will fail us - more than once. They will say things harshly and not really mean to. They will forget to do something they promised and never even know they did. They will cross lines we have drawn in the sand, not maliciously, but without much awareness the line even existed. Forgiveness involves us not seeing each and every failure as a cumulative matter, but seeing each one as a new opportunity to forgive and restore.
We may find ourselves in the place where that individual is getting on that 'last nerve' today - we need a 'nerve blocker' of sorts! Prayer can be a great place to start. It doesn't mean we have to get down on our knees, fold our hands, and recite some words of sorts. It might just mean we need to shoot up a few words silently without even uttering one solitary word audibly. I call those 'arrow prayers' - those momentary requests to God where I am relying on him to show me how to respond, what I can do or say that will diffuse that 'tension' between the other and myself. If I am to be honest here, God rarely shows me how to change the other person's actions - he shows me quickly how I can change mine! Heart (mind, will, and emotions) control isn't a science - it is a reliance upon God's grace in the moments where we need it most. Just sayin!