I can’t count the times I’ve heard about the importance of forgiveness at church. While our salvation is based on our belief, it sounds as if it can be lost if I’m unwilling or unable to forgive. Forgiveness is the Christian way and examples of incredible forgivers are held up before us. In the right context, these stories can inspire, but when held next to my ability to forgive smaller offenses, I feel like a bad person and wonder, What’s wrong with me?

If you’ve wondered that, here’s a spoiler: nothing. You’ve been told a destination and given no map. The very fact that no map is provided infers we naturally know how to proceed. Is it any wonder people of faith hold pain for decades? We can write them off as stubborn, but maybe, it’s cruel to ask someone to do something without giving them any instructions. Have you learned from church what God wants you to do with your hurt? Culture tells us to stuff it down and be polite, or better yet, don’t get offended in the first place. In my experience, church asked the same thing. Then when hurt festered, I was told to just forgive! Like it’s simple. Like it’s an action at all.

Now that I’ve experienced forgiving deep pain, I know forgiveness is not something we do. It’s not an actionable directive. Some disagree and say it’s when you encounter the person who hurt you and treat them kindly. No, that’s just you choosing to be kind to another human without condition. That’s our Christian calling and way of life. That’s not forgiveness.

Sometimes, while we’re choosing kindness, Jesus brings the gift of forgiveness, but let’s be clear, it’s a gift.

Forgiveness is a miraculous gift. It is freedom and part of what Jesus promised when He told us life more abundant is available. There are things we do to be able to receive this gift, and I will talk about that next week. For now, know that forgiveness is something Jesus wants to give you and when He does, you will find yourself feeling light and free.