I thought I knew what forgiveness was. It’s when someone says they’re sorry and you accept their apology, letting go of the offense they made towards you. Isn’t it?
Well, yes. But forgiving someone and letting go of what they did to you doesn’t always take away the pain and the hurt that they caused you, no matter how unintentional it might have been. And usually, people don’t intend to hurt us, but they do and it’s in those time when it hurts the most.
Today during church, the pastor said that he felt someone needed prayer for forgiveness. Instantly, my mind went to one person. It was the same person that just this morning I had written about in my journal…
“So many times I just want to text and tell him how much I miss him and how much I hate him for everything he did and to thank him for all the lessons I learned and tell him I’m happy for him and ask him what wasn’t good enough about me and just cry so that he can see and feel and deal with everything he just dropped when he stopped giving a damn about me. But I never will. I will never again let him know that he had such a strong impact on who I am today. Because he won’t care enough and I’ll care too much. And that’s not worth it anymore.”
I didn’t go up for prayer.
I continued sitting with my legs crossed in the very back row of the church like I normally do. I figured he wasn’t talking to someone else. I had forgiven A quite some time ago for all the things that he had done to me. It wasn’t until I was in Europe that I realized I was truly over it all. I let it go. That meant I forgave him, right? I said I forgave him. Then that day that I was back home and I broke down in tears because I didn’t feel like enough, the day that God met me right there on the driveway as I cried out to Him. Surely I had let all of A’s offenses go for good that day. Hadn’t I?
When he walked away, I was devastated. After everything we had been through. Even after it all, I had stood beside him, and then he left. Just like that, with no explanation. No phone call, no apology, nothing. I let him go, knowing that I needed to, but that didn’t make it any easier.
A part of me was still hanging on. Why? I don’t know, and I may never know.
But I do know that when the pastor continued waiting as one then two and three then four others walked up for prayer, that he was waiting for me. I kept sitting, shifting ever-so-slightly in my seat from the discomfort of the heaviness I was feeling in my chest. With each second, it burned even more.
Before I knew it, I was moving towards the front. I heard a whisper, “there she is” from someone in the pews as I walked. I stood at the front of the church fighting tears as I twisted my rings around my finger, as I often do when I’m thinking over something I’m not sure of.
“What if it wasn’t me he was talking about?”
Usually when someone else goes up for a prayer call, I sigh a breath of relief that it wasn’t me who the Lord was calling out. But not this time. This time, I knew the moment pastor spoke that it was me he was talking to.
He confirmed that when he anointed my head with oil and breathed the words “thank you for your obedience” onto my forehead.
He clasped both his hands on the back of my neck and I sobbed. His words aren’t something I’ll soon forget, nor will that prayer of forgiveness I repeated. In that moment, I was setting it free. I was once and for all letting go of the hurt and the anger and the resentment that I had towards this person who had damaged me so badly.
For the first time, I was finally forgiving him and meaning it.