When my dad’s life was taken by an impaired driver, I expected to see remorse from the man who was responsible. When that did not happen in the criminal justice proceedings, I decided that he did not deserve my forgiveness. Although that may even be true from a purely human perspective, that’s not God’s way, and holding out on forgiveness cast a long shadow over my soul.
A number of years later I noticed that I had a perspective, a way of viewing relationships and situations that was not always helpful or loving. I began asking myself what was underneath that, why did I think the way that I did? I found that it often came down to the same bitter roots – I had been hurt, I withheld forgiveness and bitterness had taken hold. This pattern was not just for profound hurts, such as my dad’s death, but also the smaller or petty hurts that we all experience as we navigate life.
Through God’s grace, and by the power of his spirit, I began to change the way that I processed hurts. Which meant, acknowledging hurts, forgiving those who hurt me, and leaving everything else up to God. I did this for both the profound and the petty hurts, and the change in my heart and in my perspective was noticeable to my family and friends.
Something I find so powerful is to ask God to help me see the person who hurt me from God’s own perspective, not mine. And that changes everything, because forgiveness is way easier to do when I have God’s perspective not my own.
Forgiveness crushes bitterness.
My whole life changed when I began operating from a place of wholeness, a whole heart. It was like I could breathe deeply again.
God is the author of forgiveness, He wants us to do it, and it’s for our own good. Jesus modeled how to do it perfectly, asking his father to forgive his murderers, even as he hung dying on the cross.
He sees our pain. He knows all about our hurts, nothing escapes his notice. So leave it to him.
He restored me in amazing and surprising ways. Years later, he led me to tell my story in a prison, to women serving time for impaired driving causing death. And in going to meet with those women, he showed me their deep remorse and emotional pain for the lives they had taken. And my story gave these women hope, that they could find forgiveness and freedom. That’s the gift of God’s grace.
But there was a gift for me too. In seeing the remorse of these women, that little piece of my heart that had been hurt years before by a different impaired driver, was healed. Because God remembers, and he restores. He really is that good. He just asks us to forgive and he will do the rest.