According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of “forgive” is one of the following:
a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>
I have trouble forgiving instantaneously. I may want to forgive someone for an offense but it might take a while. My forgiveness doesn’t have a switch, it can’t just be turned on or off as the situation warrants. My forgiveness is also just that, MY FORGIVENESS. So, it cannot be given on anyone else’s timetable. My forgiveness will be granted when I am ready.
We learn as children that an offense causes pain. If I punch my brother in the face, I will cause him pain and I will need to earn his forgiveness. As a child, I was also taught that I would have to ask God’s Forgiveness as well for punching my brother in the face.
What I’m trying to illustrate is this: when you offend someone, you cause them injury and therefore, pain. It may not be a shiner like the one I metaphorically gave my brother but it is an injury that caused pain. Like any injury, it will need time to heal. Once the healing is completed or is nearing completion or the great gaping wound has at least got a tourniquet in place, then forgiveness can begin to set in.
Some wounds are bigger than others. My kids lying to me are wounds like the random bruising I can’t figure out the origins of. Some wounds leave giant holes with ragged edges, shrapnel and internal bleeding. (I apologize for channeling Stephanie Meyer a bit but I love her books!)
You can’t judge another’s pain. You can’t judge the size of the wound that you’ve inflicted on another. You can’t see into their bodies, souls, and minds to determine what kind of internal damage your injury to another has caused. Modern science is amazing but it’s not yet found a way to get an MRI on the human soul (because this would prove God).
A person who is injured is also weakened. Therefore, to grant forgiveness, they must become strong again. Healed. Whole. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong,” said Gandhi.
Forgiveness is something that we as Christians, we as Catholics, are called to show the world. We are also called to love and be patient. We must be patient with each other and allow time to heal.
When you want forgiveness from someone for whatever reason, you must be patient and allow that person time to heal their wounds. You may heal quickly and they may not, or vice versa. The point is that it is not YOUR call. That is between the person doing the forgiving here on Earth and God. You cannot force someone to forgive anyone else and it is wrong to try to do so.
We say “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We do not say, “Forgive us our trespasses in 5 minutes, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We do not demand a response time from God and we should not demand a response time from others.
I will forgive those who’ve injured and offended me in my own time. I expect God will do the same within His Time too. If I haven’t forgiven you yet, don’t rush me. Don’t push me. I’ll forgive you just as soon as I am able. I don’t want to be weighed down with the pain you’ve caused me for eternity. However, I have to heal. I have to get my fat butt through physical therapy. Then I’ll decide the best way to address the issue of my forgiveness.
In the meantime, all you and I can do is pray for healing for one another.