Scripture tells me that I need to forgive, but my need for fairness makes me resistant to doing so. At some level, I withhold forgiveness because of my fear that the recipient will believe I’m okay with their actions. I realize that this mindset is not unique. Many of us confuse forgiveness with acceptance and miss the point that forgiveness is for the forgiver. Forgiving replaces the heaviness I feel in my heart with the joy that God wants for me.


Forgiving is also humbling. I am reminded that my own sinful nature has injured others in my life. If I want them to forgive me, why is it so difficult for me to want to forgive them?


According to the author, “Forgiveness is both a decision and a process.” Think about that for a moment. The act of forgiving is not as simple as making the decision to forgive the sin. It’s also about forgiving the effect that sin has had on me. Forgiving the act is different than forgiving the impact. Oftentimes, I don’t realize how deep and lingering the effect someone’s sin has caused within me. Knowing this has helped me understand why sometimes when I think I’ve forgiven something, the pain keeps hurting me. It’s because I forgave the act, but I didn’t forgive its emotional effect.


Why is it that when I’m trying to move past the effect of the sin and move forward in my life, I am unable to think of the person I forgave without thinking about the sin that hurt me? Forgiving is not forgetting, but in time, the memory of sin can soften. This can be done through prayer. Each time I think of the person and the memory of the sin creeps into my mind, I need to pray to God to soften that memory. I need to do this repeatedly; EVERY time the thought of the sin enters my mind. Dear God. Please help me think of this person without thinking of the sin that hurt me. In time, the sin will leave the forefront of my thoughts of this person. I’ve done this and know that it works. But it’s not a quick fix.


We live in a society that wants short-term fixes, but that doesn’t work with forgiveness. Forgiveness takes time—it’s a process.


Basically, I have a choice: I can forgive the impact and find peace or I can allow the emotional hurt to fester and turn to bitterness.


~Brenda Mathews