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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Gift Of Forgiveness

A long time ago—say about 6-7 years?—I approached my mother and asked her forgiveness. I have no memory of what I said or did that I felt compelled to apologize for, but I do remember that I was prompted by the Spirit to do so because it was the upstanding, righteous thing to do...and I also recall that it wasn't anything major.

Her response?

I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

I don't know if I'll ever be ready to forgive you.

Without any hint of melodrama I can assure you her response speared my heart. I came to this person—my own mother—with an open, hopeful heart expecting at least a grudging 'ok'. Maybe an 'I'm still angry, but I forgive you.' Or maybe even 'I'm not really ready to forgive you yet, but thank you for apologizing. I just need some time.'

I don't know

I can still hear the venom in her voice as she said these words with a bitter, satisfied look in her eyes. The message was clear: I deserved to feel terrible for what I'd done/said. And feel terrible I did, but not because of what I'd done; I was sincerely apologetic. There was nothing more I could do. My conscience was clear.

I still felt terrible, however, because of the denial. To her, there was little to no hope of pardon, a thing which she took immense satisfaction from. I was stunned, of course; when someone bares their heart to you like I did to my mother, you don't sit there and question whether or not you know if you can forgive them, too busy considering how much saying so will hurt the other person. It is cruel and unusual punishment of the worst kind. 

That moment so scarred me it nullified everything else surrounding the occasion (hence why I can't remember what I was even apologizing for). In the years since, I've never asked someone for their forgiveness. If I wrong them I simply apologize and move on. But I don't ask for their forgiveness. The wound went too deep. The only One I can manage to ask without the words sticking in my throat until I give up is
God, Who is trustworthy and always graciously forgives me.
You're probably wondering why I'm bothering to tell you all this.  

This is why: because forgiveness is precious. It is hope and redemption, and to deny someone—especially someone who is sincerely repentant—those things is despicable and shameful.