Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.”

Ever since there is offense, there is a need to forgive. We cannot demand forgiveness, nor can we expect it from anyone, but here is what an unforgiving attitude accomplishes: absolutely nothing. If anything, not forgiving a person makes a bad situation worse.

Everyone gets hurt at some point, which is why we all need to learn how to deal with pain. In medical terms, a festered wound can cause blood poisoning. An unforgiving heart has the power to poison our life in the same way a festering wound poisons our body. Not forgiving a person is really not a healthy option for us. We hurt ourselves the most if we refrain from doing so.

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean we have to let the person who hurt us back into our lives. The process of forgiveness is no one-size-fits-all approach. While it is big of us to say the three words: “I forgive you”, we know there is a lot more to it. Sometimes the person who hurt us never comes to apologize. Sometimes the person who hurt us is dead. Sometimes we even have a hard time forgiving ourselves. That is why we cannot depend on human beings for forgiveness. We need divine intervention.

Checks and balances only work for bank accounts, not for people. We do not arrive at forgiveness by inflicting as much pain as was dished out to us. The freedom associated with forgiveness lies in the power of letting go and this very act will start the healing process.

Jesus was hurt beyond repair on the cross. A lot of resentment and ill will brought Him there. Even though He was physically nailed to a tree, internally He was free. His mind was unclouded by anger. He forgave everyone involved and that includes us. “What do you mean?” you may ask. “I wasn’t there when it happened. I did not kill Jesus. He does not have to forgive me for a crime I haven’t committed.” While this is true – historically speaking we were not present when Jesus was killed – still the event of the cross addresses all of humanity. Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sins, which is wonderful news because we are all in need of forgiveness at some point in our lives.

Extending forgiveness is every bit as difficult as obtaining it – because pain hurts; it seems we best deal with past hurts on the road to compassion. Jesus has traveled this very road; in fact He represents the road map to forgiveness. He will help us sort through our issues and get past our anger. When we trust in Jesus we experience what freedom means. No longer bound by past hurt, we have the opportunity to mature into kind human beings.

Proverbs 17:9: “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Since my husband Bill and I moved into our new home we have a so-called “Arizona room”, which is basically a patio with walls and a roof. After I decided to pick up painting again we turned our Arizona room into an art studio. Working on a painting, perfectionism can drive me absolutely crazy sometimes. Meanwhile, I have learnt to let go. If I didn’t, none of my artwork would see completion.

I believe the Lord Almighty is the greatest artist of all, and in His eyes each human being is an original masterpiece. Yes, we are a masterpiece, by no means perfect, since our Creator decided to give us free will; God literally let us go and let us be – and anything less than this kind of freedom would have stifled our relationship with Him.

So, here we are: imperfect human beings on one hand and our flawless God on the other. How can humans and God ever get along?

Love makes it happen (Proverbs 10:12):

“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.”

Jesus set the stage for forgiveness; in fact, this is what He stands for. Forgiveness gives love an added dimension. Call it color, call it flavor – forgiveness makes love rich and generous.

Using a North American sport as an analogy – playing baseball, we are sometimes challenged to hit a curve-ball, which is a pitch thrown with a strong downward spin, causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer to the side as it approaches home plate. People’s imperfections are such curve balls thrown at us; we are challenged to catch them and land a home run as we love, let go of hurts, and love again.

As much as we forgive others, we too need to be forgiven. Experiencing forgiveness is like seeing the sun rise again. We stop throwing ourselves under the bus with condemnation the moment we accept forgiveness. Who needs the most forgiveness? Who cares? Playing the blame game never helps.

Love covers over all wrongs. This is how forgiveness works. This is imperfection made perfect.

“Man is many colors child:
Some are yellow, some are brown.
And some are black as sightlessness,
Some white as eiderdown.
She took her crayons from a box
And placed them in my glove
And said, “By mixing all of these
Comes my favorite color–love.” – Joni Mitchell

Colossians 3:13: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

The other day I came across an interesting statement by Morgan Freeman:

“Toxic mothers are just as bad as absent fathers, but ya’ll not ready for that discussion yet.” * source: me.me

One of the prime reasons of toxic personalities is unresolved issues germinating right below the surface – and lack of forgiveness is one of them.

What happens when we forgive a person? Here is what happens: we address an offense (one at a time) and then we are able to move on. Granted – addressing offense is hard work. Depending on the gravity of the offense, it may feel like reopening an old war wound, which means we are bleeding all over again. We want to get to the person(s) involved and we want justice. Understandably so! Well, sometimes the offenders cannot be reached. They might be dead or unavailable. Forgiving a person does not depend on the person who offended us.

The work of forgiveness is entirely our business. We have to get through this. We have to sort through our feelings. We have to do the house cleaning. “Well”, you might say, “What about the person responsible for all the mess in the house? That person left me and didn’t come back to pick up the pieces.” As awful as it is to be left behind with a messy situation, here is what I think: Yes, this person violated you and had no right to do so, but after all, this is your realm, your house. You pick up the pieces or you will find yourself in a situation similar to hoarders who cannot enter certain rooms in their house because it’s full of clutter.

It is not easy to pick up the pieces and let go. On the other hand it is much more difficult to live in clutter. We may need a third party to go through this situation with us. It is important to acknowledge that we need help.

God recommends forgiveness because it is a healthy lifestyle. Forgiving a person and moving on is freeing. Nobody is perfect. As much as we need to forgive others, others may need to forgive us too.