by Peggy Sue Wells
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12 NIV
Saint Patrick showed me how to forgive the unforgiveable.
Patrick was a wild youth growing up in England when raiders hauled Patrick to Ireland as a slave. Much like Joseph of the Old Testament, while in captivity, Patrick dedicated his life to God.
Years later, Patrick escaped. Reunited with family, he became a priest. But Ireland called in his dreams; he returned to the Emerald Isle.
The people of Ireland believed Patrick came for revenge. There was a showdown between Patrick and the king’s magician, similar to Moses and Pharaoh. Patrick traveled the nation, sharing the Gospel.
Patrick knew there is no path around, over, or under the pain of having been deeply wronged. He understood forgiveness is the way out of the soul-sucking emotional vampire of depression.
In the Greek, forgiveness means to free oneself from something that ensnares. An offense is like the bait stick of a trap. Having little to do with the other person and everything to do with me, forgiveness is the only way to freedom. When I forgive, I find the prisoner set free is me.
Forgiveness is not blind injustice. Never does forgiveness condone the actions of the person who hurt me nor stamp what happened as acceptable. Forgiveness never tolerates abuse nor gives the offender permission to continue hurting me or others.
Forgiveness is healthy boundaries. Forgiveness is not remaining in an abusive relationship, nor excusing addictions or affairs.
Forgiveness is our choice. When I forgive, that person no longer defines me. Most who offend never ask for forgiveness. I forgive because I’ve been forgiven by God.
Forgiveness is supernatural. Seeking revenge is a natural human response. Not logical or fair, I give forgiveness with no expectations.
Forgiveness is not forgetting. Experiences are chemically burned into my memory. Forgiveness doesn’t erase the past, but allows me to remember and deal with it.
Forgiveness heals the forgiver. Forgiveness transfers the offender’s debt to God and frees me from being sabotaged by the past.
Forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation. Forgiveness takes one person. Reconciliation requires both sides. While many forgivers experience restoration, many don’t. Reconciliation isn’t wise when emotional or physical safety is at risk.
Forgiveness is not a feeling. Like love, forgiveness is an action. I can act in a forgiving manner when I do not feel like forgiving. Forgiveness is a courageous act of strength.
Forgiveness is not a magic wand. Forgiving a difficult spouse, parents, or children does not promise ideal relationships in the future. Challenging people frequently continue to stir friction.
Forgiveness is a lifestyle. Content people are characterized by an attitude of forgiveness.
Unintentional offenses happen because we are human. Selfishness is the root of many offenses. Others are premeditated, deliberate, and stem from evil intent. Everyone encounters situations that can only resolve through forgiveness. Yet I can struggle to forgive because
1. I feel the offense was too great.
2. The offense is a repeated offense.
3. I struggle with memories of the offense.
4. The offender never apologized.
5. I am too angry to consider forgiving.
While I cannot cause another to feel remorse or behave differently, the person I can change is myself.
Patrick’s forgiveness of the people who had most harmed him had a deep impact. The Irish embraced Christ as Savior. All because Patrick surrendered to God and told others their lives could be different through Jesus Christ.
Who can you share the gift of forgiveness with on St. Patrick’s Day? “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Matthew 6:12 NIV
About the author: History buff, and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue Wells is the bestselling author of 30 books including Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. Connect with PeggySue Wells at peggysuewells.com
Join the conversation: Are you struggling to forgive? Why is it so hard for you?