The Power of Forgiveness

By Ian Rowlands

Introduction ~ I really wanted to follow up the last post ‘a history or a past’ with some stuff about forgiveness, as so often, at least some of the things we have to embrace to make our past part of our history will involve the need to forgive. So I hope you find this posts helpful……..

I was listening to a song the other day and was captivated by this phrase;

“…..suddenly I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory”

I started to play with the words in my head and found myself thinking about times when suddenly something had overwhelmed my own inner pain. I realised that many of these times were linked with forgiveness. Like most of us there have been many times when I have been deeply hurt by people but as I chose the difficult path of forgiveness I would be overcome by a sense of grace* and mercy not just for the person or persons who had caused my pain but also for myself! For me, I believe this is a sense of the creators grace and mercy.

And in that sense ~

“…my pain and hurt had been eclipsed by His mercy and grace”

What a powerful gift! As we press in and choose to forgive we encounter something ourselves….even, something bigger than ourselves …. something releasing. Burdens are lifted, chains are broken, ropes are torn, prison doors are opened wide….not just for those we forgive but for ourselves, and often the family and community around us.

We can have a new lease of life, a new occupation if you like ~ we no-longer have to be jailers. No longer having to live in the prison to guard the justice of the offence against us or even others. The bars of the prison made of our resentment or bitterness or rage or anger or whatever expression we choose to express or suppress start to be taken away. We can move our residence to wide, open and free places.

Throughout the ages prisons have tended to be dark dingy places and the prison of unforgiveness or resentment is often the darkest and dingiest but we can come out into the light; we can come and wash away the dirt and grime that has clung to us and affected all our relationships (which it inevitably does even if we don’t realise it). No longer having to carry the weight of judgement but rather releasing the burden. For some of us it is to hand that over and to trust another who will bring His judgement or His mercy at the appropriate time.

And when we reach those wide open places we taste life again, a new perspective of the world and those around us is able to emerge. A new hope and trust of others. We start to find it easier to forgive ourselves and receive forgiveness, as well as to actually feel forgiven.

I saw a very powerful and moving video called Lets Forgive! At the end of the movie this quote comes up on the screen:

“When deep injury is done to us,

We never recover until we forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t change the past

But it does enlarge the future”

It was the last journal entry of Mary Karen Read prior to being killed in the Virginia Tech shooting in the USA.

What a wonderful perspective! And she is right. The facts of what happened don’t change, the injustice and offence was/is real, how it made us feel, the damage it done was all real and had an impacting affect on our lives but holding onto it, harbouring it, feeding it, just deepens and intensifies the pain — it holds you in the past but forgiveness gives opportunity for healing and ‘enlarges’ the prospects of the future and the sweetness of life!

*The definition of grace I am using would bereceiving or giving underserved favour or merit –totally free…