I thought I was over the hurt. I was sure I had moved on, but as I slipped my thumb under the seal of the invitation to my ten-year college reunion, I realized I had not forgiven her.
During our last semester at school, harsh tones and accusing anger from a friend had been more than I could handle, especially in the middle of my battle with depression.
I was living with deep soul-sadness and overwhelming self-doubt I couldn’t explain or escape. When my friend questioned something I’d done, it was clear she was extremely frustrated with me.
Not having the mental or emotional strength to process her criticism, I allowed her words to shove me into a pit of shame.
Ten years passed, and I was a different person in many ways. Still vulnerable to others’ opinions but by the grace of God’s love and healing power, along with years of counseling and medication, I had been set free from the pain of my past. Or, so I thought.
Even ten years later, holding an invitation to attend an event where I’d likely see her, my heart was flooded with painful and paralyzing emotions that mirrored those I felt the day our friendship ended.
I put the reunion invitation in a drawer and tried to ignore it for weeks. Eventually, though, I got tired of being a prisoner to my pain. I wanted freedom. The kind of freedom I’d experienced during the ten years in between — the freedom of forgiveness Jesus died to give to me.
With every ounce of courage I had, I returned my RSVP with a brave yes.
In the weeks leading up to the reunion, I spent hours reading and praying through Scriptures about forgiveness, journaling through details I could remember about what happened and asking Jesus to help me see things from His perspective, and even hers.
During the three-hour drive to our college campus, I listened to worship music and messages on forgiveness and my identity in Christ. I asked God to drench me with His love and grace and give me security in Him that could not be shaken, no matter what happened when I got there.
By the time I arrived, I actually wanted to find my old friend and restore our relationship, and it shocked me. But as I walked into the room and saw my old friend, grace and healing came. I brought up what had happened, we talked and both apologized for hurting each other. We hugged, and Jesus did something I never could have done on my own.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves when we offer it to others. In doing so, we don’t forgive so we can forget. We forgive so we can be set free when we give away the same grace and mercy we’ve received.
That day felt like a miracle, and it was — a miracle started years before when Jesus extended His grace to us on the cross. In doing so, He showed us what it looks like to forgive: to be humble and gentle; patient, bearing with one another in love, to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave us.
Forgiveness is never easy. It’s some of the most excruciating faith work we will ever do. But we can do it because Jesus did the greatest work of all on Calvary. Christ in us enables us to give what we’ve been given as deeply loved, chosen, secure children of God.
Because of what Christ did, what we do with His grace and mercy makes all the difference. And now, as I get ready to attend my thirty-year reunion next month, I can say without a doubt it is worth the work that it takes to be set free!
Lord, help me process my hurt with You and let go of pain or bitterness that keeps me from wholeness and hope. Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me.
Christ in us enables us to give what we've been given as deeply loved, chosen, secure children of God. -@reneeswope: Click To Tweet