I have seen the fruit of forgiveness. I have seen it work in a heart, in a life, in a family. But I still hold back on forgiving.
I remember the day my mom told me that her father had sexually abused her. No one knows what to say after hearing that kind of news. I will never forget her words: "I've waited to tell you because I wanted you to be able to have a relationship with your grandpa." Still, to this day, I have a hard time wrapping my head and heart around that statement.
Several years later, I witnesses my mom care for her dad in the last year of his life. She was able to love because she was free of the chains of bitterness. There was never a weighing of her actions, of trying to determine whether her father deserved the dinner she was taking to him, whether he was worth the trip to the drugstore or the time it took to watch picturesque train videos with him. There was an unfathomable kindness in their interactions.
My mom found freedom from hurt and bitterness in pursuing forgiveness. She learned it from Jesus. Ephesians 4:32 says, Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We are free to forgive because we have been forgiven. It is that simple and that amazing. It takes my breath away every time.
But we must choose the freedom found in forgiveness. Some days I allow the infractions of life to add up. I keep a tally of the hurt and forgiveness seems impossible. I actually choose to be chained to bitterness and unforgiveness instead of choosing freedom. When I hold on to my tally of hurt and completely miss how bitterness is taking over my heart, every area of my life is stunted - my relationships, my mothering, my joy, and my ability to lead.
My mom chose to forgive and she chooses to live in that forgiveness each day. Each day I have the opportunity to choose the freedom Jesus gave his life for. What am I choosing? What will you choose?