Forgiveness: It’s not always easy, but it’s always freeing

By J. Hogan


-GAINS & GLEANINGS-


We all fall short. We all blow it. Not one among us hasn’t hurt someone’s feelings.


And none has escaped hurt. It’s a part of life.

A husband may dote on his wife, love her, hate the thought of hurting her — yet every wife can share about the hurts they’ve suffered. My own wife can attest to that.


Getting hurt is part of life. Moving beyond hurt must be as well.


Forgiveness is the grease that keeps the wheel of relationship in motion and the tool that keeps our emotional burdens bearable. When we don’t forgive, we suffer.


I’m reminded of a friend, Jerry, whose friend, Al, stole his girlfriend in high school. She eventually went off to college and married a guy she met there.


Thirty years later Jerry told me the story. His voice was rife with anger and resentment as he swore he would never forgive Al.


“What does Al do now?” I asked.


“I heard he’s married, working as a park ranger in Utah, couple kids,” Jerry said.

“How do you think you not forgiving him affects him?” I asked. “I don’t know. Probably doesn’t affect him at all. Haven’t seen him since graduation.”


But it affected Jerry.


Al had gone on with life.


Hopefully, he’d become better at being a friend over the years, but either way, he’d moved on.


Jerry still carried this ugly burden of anger and hatred after all that time, tying him in knots anytime he thought of Al.


That’s not healthy.


Anger, resentment and hatred are cancerous when we harbor and coddle them, eating us up.

I spoke with Jerry about his need to forgive Al, for Jerry’s sake.


Jerry agreed to write a letter of forgiveness to Al.


I don’t know if he ever mailed it —although he said he thought he could get an address off someone who’d kept in touch — but that wasn’t the point.


The process of writing the letter, working through those feelings, recognizing his need to be free of that old, ugly burden, was the point.


I’ve wrestled with my own hurts and needed God’s strength to help me where I couldn’t forgive on my own.


If you’re burdened by old wounds and the weight of unforgiveness, let me encourage you… there’s freedom in forgiveness. It’s not always easy, but it’s always freeing.


Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.