When someone harms us, it is tempting to hold onto the anger and resent the person. In a way we feel it gives us power over the person. As long as we hold on to the grudge, in our minds we are making the person pay for what they did. In reality we are making ourselves prisoners of our own bitterness. The resentment can be a barrier between us and God and also a poison to our souls. Jesus said to forgive those who persecute you. Some of the people Jesus said that to would go on to be put in jail for their faith and some were killed.
I experienced what forgiveness can do in my own life. Yes I have experienced the forgiveness of God, but this writing is about what happened as a result of me forgiving someone. That person is my father.
My father was an alcoholic. He made some mistakes in his life. He tried to make up for them the best he could. One day when he was in the hospital in the Spring of 2008, I told him “father I forgave you a long time ago. That moment opened up a whole new dynamic in our relationship. My father prayed with me to ask Jesus to forgive him. Each time I would visit my father after that day I would read from the bible to him and we would pray.
In April 2009 my father died. I was able to be with him most of his last weekend. I was with him the morning he died. I was reading from the bible to him the moment he died. I had peace knowing that he went on to be with Jesus that morning in April. I had so much peace about it that I was able to teach my classes that week and go on with my life as usual. Forgiveness is not easy. It can be difficult, but it will open the door to peace of mind and free us to live more fully. I believe that is why Jesus taught in the Lord’s prayer- forgive us our sins as we forgive the sins of those who sin against us.