The Idea of Forgiveness

The Idea of Forgiveness

This week, the concept of forgiveness has really been on my mind. Thursday, it was something that just weighted heavily on me. Friday, Facebook reminded me of a small short story I wrote about forgiveness that I had made over twelve years ago. Saturday, we were having a meeting going over some Hope’s Haven material, and a key verse on forgiveness came up that we had to deep dive in to to fully understand.

Okay God, point taken :p

Hope’s Haven is a Christian summer camp for kids who are or have been in foster care. We focus on giving them some sense of normalcy in their life where they can just have fun, and we also primarily focus on bringing healing through Christ to them. Needless to say, forgiveness is a topic we hit on, a lot! And… over the past ten years of camp, I’ve seen a lot of healing, both from campers and volunteers (and myself), when we went through that process of forgiveness. But never did I imagine how real this concept would become during what I can honestly say was our toughest time of life we have experienced to date.

This past year and season has been particularly rough for Danielle and I (I’m not here to air my baggage or complain or look for sympathy, I am just calling it what it is). It felt as though literally everything we ever cared about was under fire and our world was burning down around us. I couldn’t count the number of days I asked God why… Why us? Why this or that? Why does it feel like I’m losing everything? Why can’t things just get better? (The longer I walk with God, the more I understand that our definition of better is not always in line with God’s definition or design)

In the midst of everything, God drew us close and reminded us time and time again that He is faithful, and trustworthy, and good. And… that it wasn’t our responsibility to carry everything ourselves.

That is forgiveness. As simple as that. It is the willing release of the burdens and hatred and bitterness and anger and sadness to God and saying that this is not my burden to carry. I love how simple this concept is: “Give it to me. Let Me handle it in My way.” But it is not easy. It never is.

The enemy would be dementedly delighted if we would just hang on to it ourselves. To let it fester. To let it poison your daily life. They relish in bringing it up time and time and time again, sending you down a spiral of depression and bitterness and anxiety. I don’t know who came up with the saying that “time heals all wounds”, but that is both false and dangerous. Unaddressed anger, bottled rage, the burden of depression… Time holding tighter and tighter to unresolved pain just leads to more pain and bitterness. It lets your wounds fester and infect, making you bitter, jaded, paranoid, or depressed.

The last evening of campfire time at camp, we give each of our campers and volunteers a pine cone that has small spikes on it. That represents your burdens, and the tighter you hold on to it, the more it hurts. Then there’s the campfire, the refiner’s fire, and we encourage everyone to throw their burdens away and let God handle it in His way. To trust that He can handle all of our pain, and to let Him heal the pains inflicted on you by others and yourself.

That is forgiveness. It’s not forgetting. It’s not ignoring it or pretending it didn’t happen. It’s not accepting that what someone else has done was right or okay. It’s not turning a blind eye. It’s letting it go, and letting God handle the outcome.

- Written By David D.

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