For all that gets written and talked about on the subject of forgiveness, why is it so hard to achieve let alone maintain? If only our most earnest efforts at forgiveness translated into the results of the freedom and peace we crave after an offence occurs. God’s answer to offence is forgiveness. He demonstrates it flawlessly in the most unimaginable circumstances and provides a library with numerous narratives that underscore the need, the command and the blessing of forgiveness. Do we struggle because deep down we really don’t want to forgive, or because we don’t know how to forgive?
Through my work in restorative justice practice, I encounter many victims and offenders who struggle with this very issue on a profound level. My own personal struggle with understanding forgiveness was transformed the day I met a woman whose daughter was murdered over thirty years earlier. In a room of offenders guilty of a similar crime that she had suffered (and suffers), I too went on a journey to discover the road to forgiveness frame by frame. It was in that room that I learned that the need for forgiveness always signals an ending and a beginning and a need to let go. We have to let go of ourselves as we used to be and embrace a new beginning because when an offence happens it changes our reality. Processing this reality is the work that eventuates in a position whereby we can make a choice to let go and go forward. Forgiveness is the power that accelerates that forward momentum. So often we are focused on our offender, but God’s invitation in forgiveness is for us to be healed and restored. This is work we do with him and for ourselves so that all that has been interrupted and blocked in us can be freed up and made whole again.
Stacey Campbell is the President & CEO of Prison Fellowship Canada. Stacey has a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. In addition to her executive duties Stacey continues to work hands-on in the PFC national ministry of reconciliation with ‘the least of these’ and practices a Biblical approach to transformation, justice, restoration and prevention based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Her current work includes working weekly alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, and victims.