The word stared down at me from a billboard I passed two days ago. Just that one word. And then in smaller letters: http://www.forgivenessistheway.org. I didn’t do anything but wonder about it.
I passed it again yesterday, and this morning looked at the website. It’s sponsored by an amazing woman whose 3-year-old daughter was paralyzed after being hit by a stray bullet. Just like that, her world turned upside down, and she realized she had a choice. To forgive, or go through life angry and bitter. She chose forgiveness, and has taken her message on the road, literally. Funding billboards across the region, speaking whenever she can about the freedom of forgiveness. Her website is a testimony to that power, not just in her life, but in the lives of many who have seen her billboard and responded to that one word. “Forgive.” Look up her website and read her story. It’s so inspiring.
I know I don’t have as much to forgive as this woman did. No one has killed or permanently damaged my children. I can’t imagine letting go of that, which gives me untold respect for this woman. But I’ve been hurt and betrayed, and experienced the bondage of resentment and unforgiveness, and the addiction of obsessive thinking when my feelings get hurt or my jealousies are aroused. Eventually I find freedom in letting go and releasing those debts. I wish it were more automatic for me. I got stuck in an obsessive cycle just this week when a close friend hurt my feelings. I sat around in ashes, clothed in resentments for several wasted hours. Ok, days. Sigh.
It may take me awhile to get this, but God helps me remember that a) forgiveness is for me. It benefits ME more than the other person. My resentments poison me from the inside out, and that poison tends to leak, blocking love and affecting everyone in my life. We all lose. Holding onto things hurts me so much more than the other. And b) forgiveness is not an option. “Forgive, as I forgive you.” “Forgive and you will be forgiven.” May I practice that with my husband today, my kids, my friends and neighbors. It’s the way, as the billboard said. The way to Love.
What do you have the hardest time forgiving within your marriage?