by Janet Holm McHenry
Ever had someone cuss you out in a nonstop blue streak of the worst possible names?
I tell you, teachers put up with a lot. When I gave a kid (who was also rude and sassy) a low grade because zilch effort had gone into an assignment, his mother made an appointment with me. I had a hunch what might lie ahead, so I asked both my administrator and a teaching peer to sit in on the conversation.
It was more like a confrontation. Every awful word in the book was screamed at me in front of those other two women. It was a low in my teaching career of 26 years. The young man did eventually pass my class and graduated but struggled for some years afterwards.
I avoided that woman for two years, but knew she’d be back in my life when I began teaching her daughter. I had to forgive. But you can’t really forget, can you? So the not-really-forgetting simply means that the forgiveness happens over and over, and kindness then has a chance to settle in.
The daughter turned out to be a lovely person and a very good student whom I helped get scholarships to a wonderful private university, from which she graduated in four years.
The mother did a complete reverse, thanking me for helping her daughter. I think she began to see that I was not a monster who had it in for her son.
However, I’ve got to tell you, it was hard seeing the mom. Deep breaths and prayer went into a lot of prep, along with a huge measure of forgiveness. After all, as the mom of four kids, I well know how one child can be so different than another.
But forgiveness is freeing. The anger and the hurt no longer have control over your emotions and your reactions. In fact, forgiveness, friend, is the hallmark of the Christian faith. In Luke 6 Jesus taught that we should not only forgive people but also do something kind for them. When we are cursed, we are to offer blessing in return. When someone mistreats us, Jesus taught us to pray for the person.
You see, forgiveness is the difference between Christianity and any other. After all, Jesus died for our own forgiveness. One of his last prayers on the cross was “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NIV). He forgave his enemies—those who had physically hurt him, wrongfully convicted him, betrayed him, denied him. Thus, we are called to forgive others for the measure of their offenses—small or large.
Forgiveness has allowed me to live and breathe and sleep and move on. I pray for a season of forgiveness in our personal and wider circles of life. And I hope you will too.
“But if you will listen, I say to you, love your enemies and do something wonderful for them in return for their hatred.” Luke 6:27 TPT
About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of twenty-four books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk, which has encouraged tens of thousands to pray for their communities while they walk.
In her newest book, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus, she examines the “Father, forgive them” prayer, among the other prayers, prayerful practices, and teachings of Jesus. She would love to connect with you at https://www.janetmchenry.com.
Join the conversation: Have you experienced the freedom that forgiveness can bring?