Tyler Perry has repeatedly referenced forgiveness in many of his works. I believe he has done so because the ability to forgive is a common thread present in the life fabric of those who live at peace with themselves and others. People you know will hurt you, AND people you don’t know will hurt you. Whether known or unknown, our inability to forgive can corrupt the quality of our lives.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary offers an adequate definition of forgiveness, but I felt the need to write my own for this post so here goes. “Forgiving means releasing an offender and requiring none or no further retribution or repentance.”
In an attempt to protect ourselves, we often establish preconditions before exonerating the transgressor, but true forgiveness can have no terms or fine print. Forgiveness is an undeserved gift that should be given with no strings attached. Sometimes we must even extend forgiveness to the unrepentant–I’ve got the t-shirt and the hat for this one. Peter, one of Christ’s disciples, was probably road rage mad at someone when he asked if 7 was the maximum number of times he should forgive, but Jesus replied that the number of times was 7 X 70 (Matthew 18:21–). I imagine Peter’s knees buckled at Jesus’ response; if Peter’s didn’t, mine surely did.
Forgiving isn’t easy, and it may not always take at the initial profession. We may appear to be over the offense, but time can reveal that the wound is still present even if the person/people who hurt us are not. We must be patient and work through the process of completely letting go. When we have been gravely hurt over an extended amount of time, it may not be as easy to forgive even though we sincerely want to. Some pain has deep roots, and it takes work to dig it all out.
After we have truly forgiven, I think there is another step required to move forward. I’ve often said and heard others says, “I can forgive them for what they did, but I can’t forget…” I understand this statement in regard to physical memory, but in some ways, we have a need to be forgetful. Recollecting past hurts with a victim mindset can choke out happiness and limit present and future relationships.
We must take only the wisdom from past hurts and forget the baggage.