Gift of Forgiving IV: Forgiveness is Not Automatic
Updated: May 14, 2019
Sometimes you have to take a detour. You know those trips where you are trying to get from A to B, but you have to go way out of your way to C to get back to B. Nobody really enjoys a detour. We live in a fast paced world, calculating the quickest route on our GPS. Veering from our trajectory is often met with apprehension.
But it’s in those detours that we often learn new things, notice more, and feel in ways we never thought possible. It’s in those detours that He slows us down and meets us in the middle.
After struggling for a couple of months to start this series on forgiveness, I found myself staring at a sign in front of a small church while on a detour. An accident during my evening commute doubled the time of my drive and led me on a road I don’t normally take. The traffic was still moving unbearably slow, but that slowness gave me time to notice the words on this sign.
“Forgiveness is not automatic.”
That proverbial light bulb went off. The same way I had been trying to rush the story, I had rushed the forgiveness process. “Forgive and forget,” used to be my motto. Shake the dust off and get back up. But it isn’t always that simple and it certainly isn’t always that fast.
In my quest to hurriedly dot the last ‘i’ and cross the last ‘t’, I needed to be reminded that the road to forgiveness was not a straight shot. My story needed to unfold slowly, one piece at a time. Just like the actual process of forgiveness.
The start to my road to forgiveness was like hitting a pothole really hard, causing a tire to blow. Pulled over to the side of the road, I was physically okay, but pretty shaken up. Life was moving full speed ahead and then it came to a screeching halt.
Equipped with a box of gifts from the past and a handful of memories of my dad I started the journey. Bewildered like a deer in the headlights, the only thing I knew to do was call out to God. I’d like to tell you it was a beautiful calling, elegantly worded, and starting with praising of course. It was more like, “What the heck?” To be completely honest, I’m pretty sure I used the ‘HE double L’ version of “heck.”
Regardless of the raw delivery method, I took the first step in the right direction. I called out to the only Father I ever really knew.
And then slowly the process began, starting with those gifts in a box.
After being knocked off of my feet, I started to trace back the steps that led to my detour. Why was I all of a sudden so interested in the past with my dad? In the eleven years that had passed since his death, I had thought of him maybe a few times. We didn’t have much of a relationship while he was alive, so I didn’t have much to relive postmortem.
That day I wanted to get rid of everything that reminded me of him and that included all of the fancy gifts he had given me. There was a gold plated desk clock and another fancy clock with a little globe on top. I had placed my glass owl bank loaded with pennies in there. There was the wedding band and engagement ring my mom had handed down. Then there was a little black velvet box in the bottom and one look at it caused a big ole’ chest heaving sigh.
I affectionately call it Pandora’s Box. Once I opened that box a multitude of repressed memories and feelings were unleashed. But God, being the Good, Good Father that he is used that box to set me free.
Forgiveness is two parts. The forgiving and the letting go. I was stuck somewhere in purgatory between the two. God had me take a little detour, okay a big detour, to accomplish great things -- to be free.
God can do the same for you. You just have to let go of the steering wheel and let Him drive. Are you willing?
There is nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness. - John Connolly