Remember when you were in grade school and your teacher was teaching you how to use the dictionary? You worked on papers where you had to decide which word came first. You would receive your paper and there would be rows of words, two at a time, and you had to circle the word that came before the other word in the dictionary. Let’s say the two words were: forgiveness and freedom. Which word would you circle? Forgiveness, of course, it always comes before freedom in the dictionary…….
Just as it is in the dictionary, so it is in life. Forgiveness always comes before freedom. Over the course of our lives, we receive many offences from people, some large and others minute. We have two choices when we are in a position where someone has offended us: 1. We can either choose to hold on to the offence or 2. We can forgive.
Forgiveness can be a very difficult thing to give in our lives, especially if someone has hurt us deeply. Our tendency is to want to hold on to the hurt and nurse it. After all, we have been wronged. The problem with this attitude is that the unforgiveness that we carry does not necessarily harm the other person; it only harms us. We are a container and when we hold on to an offence, it is like a toxic substance inside of us. The toxic substance does not do our bodies or our minds any good, only harm.
When it comes right down to it, forgiveness is a choice. We must choose to forgive those that have done us wrong. When we do that we become free of the offence. Is the process instantaneous; we forgive and then we are free? Sometimes, but not usually. Forgiveness is a process. We choose to forgive, and then we begin to walk it out. The memory may come to mind again and again, but each time we say,”I choose to forgive that person; I am not going to carry this around with me any more.” Over and over, the process repeats, until at some point, the memory fades and that offence no longer has power over us.
You say …, “But you don’t understand what so and so has done to me.” You’re right, I don’t understand, but the process is the same.
It is a spiritual law of the universe. If we want it, we have to be willing to give it.
You will say to me, “But, you still don’t understand what so and so did to me.”
…we also must understand what forgiveness is not:
1. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that what the person did was not wrong. It was wrong and nothing will change it.
2. Forgiveness IS NOT saying that the person won’t have to make restitution for what they did to you. They still may owe a debt to society and may need to go through the judicial system.
Forgiveness IS you releasing them from the wrong they committed against you. They are still responsible before God and society for what they did. You no longer have to live in a prison of hate or despair over their actions. You can be free from them.
You see, in life, just as it is in the dictionary, forgiveness always comes before freedom.
The father of a car accident victim hugging Takunda Mavima, a drunk-driving teen who caused a crash. His son, Tim See, was friends with Takunda and chose to ride in the car with him.
In a moving address to the court, both the sister and the father of victim Tim See spoke on behalf of Mavima, urging the judge to give him a light sentence.
“I am begging you to let Takunda make something of himself in the real world — don’t send him to prison and get hard and bitter, that boy has learned his lesson a thousand times over and he’ll never make the same mistake again,” Lauren See said in court.