NOT A ONE OF US, AS WE journey through life, isn’t offended, wounded, betrayed, wronged, or targeted for vicious falsehoods by others. I’ve experienced my share too.
- I know first-hand how soul-deep the pain goes when others sow lies, attack one’s good name, spread false allegations, assume the worst, deny the benefit of the doubt, and see one’s truth as lies.
- I have known betrayal by those I thought were friends.
- I’ve felt the agony of wounds inflicted by those who said they loved me.
- I’ve known what it is to be utterly vulnerable to someone and feel safe with them, only to be savaged by their rejection or attacks.
From childhood on, like everyone else, I’ve been wounded physically, emotionally, and in the very core of my spirit, by those who deliberately or unwittingly brought against me their sharp words or hurtful actions.
But I’m not saying this to certify myself for victimhood. I am most assuredly not a victim. I only mention these things to certify myself as being in solidarity with every other living, breathing human being on the planet. For we each and all have been offended—and perhaps even worse, have also offended, just as much.
Forgiveness is that highest act of selflessness and grace of which we are capable. And as an editor, let me immediately revise that, for we are not capable of true forgiveness at all—not without divine help—and of that, I am certain. I acknowledge your freedom to see it otherwise, but this is my own conviction.
I’ve found my way, with God’s help, to forgive those who have offended me. Even those who have never admitted or acknowledged that they have hurt me. Even those who have hurt me the most. Even those who continue to inflict pain and are likely to go on doing so for as long as breath follows breath.
Just as I am no victim for having been offended, I am no saint for forgiving. It is only the grace of God that has made that possible.
But there is one person I can’t forgive—not yet. I haven’t yet forgiven the one who has brought me the greatest pain and offended me the most. I have a seminary degree and have spent some years of my career as a pastor. But I am not theologian enough to know how to forgive this person—or even whether God expects me to or can make it happen.
This person is the one who has savaged the relationships of my life. He is the one who has filled my own life with the letter D: disease and divorce and discouragement and doubt and depression and yes, death. He’s the one who took away my father….ultimately, everyone else’s father, and mother, and spouse, and child, until we’re all under the sod. He is the one who makes a wretched playground of misery and loss and war and suffering of Planet Earth.
Yes, you know who he is. I’ve forgiven many, of much. I have yet to forgive the one who has taken from me the most. At times, I feel waves of purest hatred for him. It’s not good for me. It seems to me that I need to find my way to this one last choice of forgiveness.
If that is to be, I’ll need all the outside help I can get.