To Forgive is to set a Prisoner Free and Discover That the Prisoner was You.

A letter written to a man on death row by the Father of the man whom the man on death row had killed:

You are probably surprised that I, of all people, am writing a letter to you, but I ask you to read it in its entirety and consider its request seriously. As the Father of the man whom you took part in murdering, I have something very important to say to you.

I forgive you. With all my heart, I forgive you. I realize it may be hard for you to believe but I really do. At your trial, when you confessed to your part in the events that cost my Son his life and asked for my forgiveness, I immediately granted you that forgiving love from my heart. I can only hope you believe me and will accept my forgiveness.

But this is not all I have to say to you. I want to make you an offer- I want you to become my adopted child. You see, my Son who died was my only child, and I now want to share my life with you and leave my riches to you. This may not make sense to you or anyone else, but I believe you are worth the offer. I have arranged matters so that if you will receive my offer of forgiveness, not only will you be pardoned for your crime, but you also will be set free from your imprisonment and your sentence of death will be dismissed. At that point you will become my adopted child and heir to all my riches.

I realize this is a risky offer for me to make to you- you might be tempted to reject my offer completely– but I make it to you without reservation.

Finally, you may be concerned that once you accept my offer you may do something to cause you to be denied your rights as an heir to my wealth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If I can forgive you for your part in my Sons death, I can forgive you for anything. I know you never will be perfect, but you do not have to be perfect to receive my offer. Besides, I believe that once you have accepted my offer and begin to experience the riches that will come to you from me, that your primary (not always) response will be gratitude and loyalty.

Some would call me foolish for my offer to you, but I wish for you to call me your Father.

Sincerely,

The Father of Jesus

I love attending bible class because I get to hear things that make me think differently. This letter was presented to me one Sunday morning by Caroline Dye, a woman I look up to and hope to be like one day.

The theme of our lesson Sunday was forgiveness. It got me thinking about how hard it is to forgive sometimes.

I have been hurt multiple times by people, from people I thought were friends, to family, to certain individuals I dated, whether it was being lied to, cheated on, or just used or forgotten. And I used to hold huge grudges. I always thought to myself, “never, will I ever allow someone to make me feel like this again.” But I wasn’t helping myself. I was hurting myself. I was holding on to pain, often rehearsing the hurt over and over in my mind. I became really resentful and ran away from potentially healthy relationships or friendships because I was afraid everyone was the same. I basically became a slave to the person or situation that hurt me.

I realized however, I had to let go and forgive.  I had to release its hold on me.

Ephesians 4:31

” Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Because after all, I have been forgiven. 

Becoming a Christian has helped me to grow in maturity.

When someone hurt me in the past, I immediately wrote them off and held a grudge against them. But now, when someone does me wrongfully, or in todays slang  “does me dirty,”  I try to take an objective view. The fact is that our memory can never be changed, but our feelings and perceptions can be changed. Our memories come from our standpoint. So these days, before becoming offended, I try to step into the other persons shoes. For example, maybe when my ex cheated on me, he wasnt ready for a serious relationship. Maybe he didn’t know a good thing when he had it. None of which had to do with me, it was not my fault. It was the fact that he needed to grow up. Just the other day he wrote me and apologized for the past. I hope he knows I forgive him.

Maybe when someone is short or irritable with me its because they have a lot on their plate. Maybe they are going through something I have no idea about. Maybe someone is not in my life anymore because they don’t have room for me in their busy schedule.. There is usually always a reason for someone’s behavior. One thing I know, is that being resentful and holding grudges does nothing but enhance anger. But forgiving, releases its hold.

Ive also learned to accept apologies ill never receive.. and forgive a person anyways. Because when we don’t forgive, our old wounds are constantly reopened with resentment. They can never fully heal until we patch them up with forgiveness. Plus, maybe someone is actually sorry for something, but is too ashamed to say sorry.  Maybe they cannot forgive themselves. Maybe hearing you say “I forgive you, I love you” is what breaks them down in the end.

At the end of the day, we are all human, we all make mistakes. Its not to say to keep letting someone hurt you, but if they ask for forgiveness, we need to forgive them. Because when we mess up, we all want forgiveness.

Matthew 6:15

But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


 

I think one of the hardest people to forgive is ourselves. 

A certain blogger I found named Lori, wrote about a time in In the movie Good Will Hunting. Where there is a scene where the therapist aka ( Robin Williams) named Sean in the movie, looks at the genius Will (aka the dreamy Matt Damon) ,  and says “It’s not your fault.” as they were discussing the severe abuse Will suffered from his foster father, which led him to a life filled with resentment and underachievement.

The first time Sean says, “It’s not your fault,” Will responds with the usual, “Yeah, I know.”

But as he repeats it, over and over again, “Its not your fault.. its not your fault… Its not your fault.” The words penetrate through Will’s tough shell, and eventually break him down, until he’s crying in his therapist’s arms. Thinking about this scene gets to me every time, because I know that nonchalant response “Yeah, I know,” or the “Im fine,”  And I also know that lost, vulnerable feeling of realizing that I really don’t know and i’m not really fine.

Ive been there and felt that.

There are certain things that most of us understand to be true. We know that no one can love us if we don’t love ourselves. We know we shouldn’t blame ourselves for things other people have done. We know we need to accept and forgive ourselves or else we’ll never be happy.

We know all this, yet sometimes despite knowing these things intellectually, we forget them internally. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and remember we’re doing the best we can—and our best is good enough and we need to forgive ourselves for lacking at times.


 

 

When it comes to forgiving, I try to think back to where I was when I first discovered the good news of the Gospel. After countless times of me ignoring Him, He still gave me an opportunity to choose Him.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

I remember how I felt when I learned the good news. That although I had hit rock bottom, had been living in the complete opposite way I should have been, and felt worthless, He was still willing to forgive me..

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

As I have come to turns with the fact that I have been forgiven, and how amazing of a feeling it is. I’ve learned that one of the best ways of showing someone the wrong they have done is to contrast their actions with grace.

So I try to apply this when I attempt to forgive someone else. Because the world tells us to hate that person, or “dont get mad, get even.”  but God’s word tells us to forgive.

Colossians 3:12-13

” Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

When we forgive others we show that His Spirit is at work within us.When we forgive others we show others that we have not forgotten where we were when He found us and forgave us. We shine a light towards Him.

Matthew 5:16

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”


 

I realize the relationships and people I allowed into my life have shaped me into who I am today. I have forgiven myself for the mistakes I have made. I have learned the value of forgiveness and how to apply it, and most importantly how to ask for it.

I have hurt a lot of people in the past, and made a lot of bad decisions. But I am a work in progress, and I realized I had to apologize to certain individuals but most importantly, I had to forgive myself for my past, because God has forgiven me. and He forgives you too.

 Ephesians 4:31

” Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

My Grandpa once told me, when I was feeling down about something, “Megan let yourself feel like that for five more minutes and then move on.

I realize this is not easy, but hes right. I’ve learned that it’s okay to let myself feel down for alittle while, but I must release the hold it’s got on me because I am gaining nothing by allowing myself to continue to feel that way.

Because the alternative to forgiveness is bitterness and resentment.

Sooner or later we must release guilt, anger, and resentment’s hold on us and get on with our lives. Release it by forgiving and moving on.

I for one choose to move on.. I choose not to be a victim. I choose to be transformed through painful experiences. I choose to learn from my mistakes. I choose to forgive.

One of my favorite writers wrote : “instead of harboring bitter, resentful memories, those who have been hurt can throw their energies into an effort that would lift them to a higher plain. For example, the child of an abusive parent can resolve that his own home will be Christ- like. The mother of a victim drunk driver can become a spokesperson for Mothers against drunk drivers. The child of an alcoholic father can refuse to follow in her parents footprints as she sets a proper example for her own children. The process is long and hard. But we were never promised an easy life. Instead of being victims, we can be transformed into loving, wise, and mature people through our painful experiences. 

Remember, we are each composed of bits and pieces of everyone who has ever crossed our paths. It is up to us to determine whether we choose to keep the good, or choose to keep the bad. It is our decision. A forgiving spirit does not erase painful memories. The emotional scars will always be there, but we can choose not to allow those memories to cripple us. Memories are our teachers in the school of life. But we have to train ourselves to listen to their lessons.” –– Jane Mcwhorter

Forgiveness and letting go are stepping stones back to happiness.

Isaiah 43:18-19

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.”

Romans 12:17-21 “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do no be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

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