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 had 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.
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 (free printable of verses at the end of this post), 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 several teaching messages on forgiveness and our identity in Christ. I also soaked my soul in worship music. And 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 honestly, I was shocked that I felt that way. 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 the Holy Spirit 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 that 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 you.
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.
I created a pretty printable bookmark with my favorite forgiveness for you! Simply complete the form below to get the printable PDF or you can scroll down to see the scriptures in plain text below.
Ephesians 1:7, “In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”Isaiah 43:25-26, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.”Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”Daniel 9:9, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;”Colossians 1:13-14, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”