Happy Friday, friends! I am SO excited to introduce Taylor Schumann to you today. We’ve been friends for years (read: she knew me when I was awkward), which can mostly be attributed to our love of snacks & sassy comments. I watched her graduate high school, walk through her college years, & get engaged. And in 2013, I watched one terrible day change her life. Taylor was the victim of a shooting (read the full story in her words here) & suffered serious hand injuries.
I’ll be the first to tell you that my friend is brave, she is tough, and she is determined. Despite multiple surgeries, chronic pain, and a long recovery, she started working as a calligrapher. Yes, with an injured hand. She’s amazing. And the past two years have grown her to look so much more like Jesus, even when it comes to the hardest thing: forgiving the one responsible for the day that changed it all. That’s why I asked her to write about it today. Here are some thoughts on forgiveness from a girl who’s dug so deep to find it.
Forgiveness is one of those words that makes our palms all sweaty and causes us to start getting super defensive in our minds. We are not fans of this word.
There is a lie that I believed about forgiveness for a long time that caused me to be unable to embrace forgiveness. I don’t know where or when I started believing this lie. But I did. And it has caused my heart a whole lot of unrest. I’m betting you believe it, too.
Forgive and forget. One and done. You decide to forgive, and bam it’s done. You have forgiven. All is well with the world. You can now move on with your life and live in a constant state of forgiveness bliss. That would be nice. But, it’s just not the way it works.
I really love watching Dateline. And one thing I’ve seen in many Dateline episodes is this. Something awful happens to someone and and they have to face their attacker in court and they tell them that they forgive them. I always wonder how those people do it. How they just forgive. And I hoped that if it were me in their shoes, that I could do that, too.
And then it was me in their shoes.
And I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how I could stand up there in court and say “I forgive you for trying to kill me and ruining my life” and then never have any bitter feelings toward him again. So I didn’t. I knew one day I would have the strength to forgive, but that day wasn’t the day.
Have you believed this lie? The lie that we have to have all of our ducks in a row, all of our emotions in order, and our hearts in the right state before we forgive? Because that’s what it is. A lie.
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Forgiveness is a daily choice. One that we have to make every day.
We forgive by faith. We trust God to do the work in us that needs to be done so that we are able to forgive. I firmly believe that God will honor our commitment to him when we choose to forgive and He will complete the work in His time.
Jesus’ answer in Matthew 18 makes it clear that forgiveness is not and will not be an easy task for us. It’s not a one time choice. Forgiveness may require a lifetime of forgiving. We continue to choose forgiveness each day because it is important to the Lord.
Sometimes the reason we don’t choose to forgive is because we are seeking justice. We feel that until justice is served for the wrongdoing against us, that forgiveness is not a choice. Can I tell you something that kind of sucks? That day may never come. You may never see the justice that you desire to see in this life. And friends, that’s a heavy, heavy burden to carry around just in case. I have done it. And it will slowly eat away at you until you don’t recognize yourself. It’s okay to want justice. God LOVES justice. So we need to let Him do what He does best and BE GOD for us.
When it seems to hard to do on our own, we do it by faith. We will fail. We will want to cling to our unforgiveness because it makes us feel like we have some control over our lives. It will be a journey. And it will suck sometimes and we won’t want to do it. That’s what grace is for. So we let God be a big God. And we choose each day to forgive.
By making that choice, we choose to let go of that heavy burden and give it to the only one who can carry it. And then we pray. We pray for God to deal with the injustice, we pray that He would heal our hearts, and then we leave that prayer right there at His feet.