Relationships can be tough. The ones between siblings, spouses, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and offspring—all of them can run you ragged.
And when things start to go south, you may ask yourself,
“Now what? Do I just ‘get over it’?”
“Do I reach out and express that I feel this way?”
“Do we just go our separate ways?”
I mulled over these options until this happened: it occurred to me that extending forgiveness is also an option.
Getting over it, sharing my feelings, or bidding them farewell will potentially breed unresolved tension, a lack of closure, and further misunderstanding if not preceded by forgiveness.
I remember learning years ago that feelings are neither bad nor good. Feelings just are. That being said, I have given myself permission to own my feelings unapologetically. What I refuse to give myself permission to do is not extend forgiveness.
It was somewhat of a “lightbulb moment” when I realized that a need to forgive was at the root of my discontentment. I thought it was the fact that I had been wronged; or that I was being hyper-sensitive; or that I was uncomfortable being corrected and criticized; or that I loathe unsolicited and misguided advice. But, nope. My lack of peace, my repeated rehearsals of the interaction, my desire to rewind time and choose a different turn of events was most directly rooted in a need to extend forgiveness.
The start of this forgiveness process has yielded some much-needed clarity. Am I “over it”? No. Did I have “the talk”? No. Did I unfriend, block, and delete? Not at all.
What I have done is this: I have prayed for us. I have rehearsed the good times, the benefits of our bond, the ways I am a better person because of our connection.
In doing so, I have uprooted some humility, dissolved bitterness, unwelcomed resentment, and made way for a softer heart, all while being true to my actual feelings and my God-given option to forgive.
The reality is God created us to live in community with one another. He knows we need each other. With that comes a plethora of differences. He is liberal. She is conservative. They are introverts. We are extroverts. He is convinced we should stay. She can’t imagine not leaving at once. They heard God say “make it short and sweet” while we heard Him say “keep it long and impactful.” We are different. We disagree. We offend. We hurt.
Do we just “get over it”?
Do we reach out and express what we feel?
Do we go our separate ways?
These are indeed options.
Forgiveness is the other option.
I have found that this “other” option sets the stage for me to make wiser and God-honoring moves. Perhaps it’s because I more readily remember that, yes, it is hard; yes, I am hurt; yes, I am offended; and . . . I, myself, am forgiven.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13