Forgiveness Is The Gift You Give Yourself

In his excellent book on forgiveness, Desmond Tutu writes about how there are some people who you need to forgive, in spite of the fact that they will never acknowledge or receive your forgiveness. 

It could be that they may never even know that you forgive them.  

There have been so many people in my life that I've had to forgive from afar because they either they faded out of contact, or they were too toxic to reconnect with--or probably a few other things in between.  

So what do you do when the person who has wronged or wounded you is no longer able to stand in front of you to receive your forgiveness?  You forgive them anyway. Because in the end, forgiveness is far less about the person who wronged you, and so much more about you and your own well being. 

The funny thing is some people do a really good job of giving you opportunities to forgive them, and set yourself free.  

You probably have a few of these gift-giving folk in your sphere of influence.  They get under your skin.  They say offensive things.  They might even go out of their way to hurt you.  

In the end, however, you should be grateful to them for allowing you the opportunity to grow and mature in your faith.  Each slight, every dig, all of the offhand comments, and even the full-on assaults to your character are all life-giving moments that you can use to become more like the person God dreams for you to be.  

Mind you, there are times in our lives when the harm done cannot and should not be seen as a gift.  There is a huge difference between someone gossipping about you, speaking harshly to you or betraying a confidence... and physical, emotional or psychological abuse.  

But even then, there is something about forgiveness that can set us free from even the most reprehensible person.  Bishop Tutu wrote the following litany to explain: 
I will forgive you
The words are so small
But there is a universe hidden in them
When I  forgive you
All those cords of resentment, pain and sadness that had wrapped
Themselves around my heart will be gone
When I  forgive you
You will no longer define me
You measured me and assessed me and 
Decided that you could hurt me
I didn't count 
But I  will forgive you
Because I  do count 
I do matter 
I am bigger than the image you have of me 
I am stronger 
I am more beautiful 
And I  am infinitely more precious than you thought me
I  will forgive you
My forgiveness is not a gift that I am giving to you
When I   forgive you
My forgiveness will be a gift that gives itself to me. 

What an amazing poem, right?  It's more like a prayer, to be honest, and I would not hesitate to use it as such.   

Maybe you have some people in your life that you need to forgive and to let go of right now.  Maybe there is someone who is no longer part of your life, but you need to forgive them, too.  

Pray this prayer, and set yourself free.  Then start the new year with a clean slate in terms of the bitterness that you may have been holding on to.  And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 

To all of you faithful readers... 

I'll be taking some time off for the rest of this week to enjoy the holiday season.  I'll be back writing and doing my daily Facebook live devotions after the first of the year.  Unless... I get inspired to write something... and then you'll be the first to know. 

Until that time---have a blessed rest of your Advent season.  Have a Merry Christmas (in spite of our circumstances), and a Happy New Year (we get a fresh start, y'all!).  


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