Who Do You Need to Forgive

woman walking down center line of road

“Forgiving is letting the captive free only to realize that the captive was you.”

The quote above has been attributed to several people (Smedes, Eldridge, assuredly others) and leads to the question I want to pose today:

Who do you need to forgive?

I was recently listening to a favorite parenting podcast about teaching your kids forgiveness. But my mind moved to work, as it often does. Like a slap in the face, I realized there was someone I was not forgiving.

Their actions were subtle. To be sure, they’re not immoral actions. Just enough to create tension. Or put more accurately, enough to hold me captive.

I am the problem.

Not them.

For I was allowing my perceptions of what they were doing to get under my skin. And the ugly thing is that, despite my best attempts to hide, this was producing in me all the kinds of things that I write about on this blog: gossip, discontentment, frustration —which is the politically correct way of saying I was pissed off.

In the next post, I am going to turn to anger and how becoming the captive—not forgiving—gives the other person the power. But for now, I want to focus on forgiveness.

Forgiveness is releasing the grudge. It severs the anchor and releases the ship back to sea. It allows you to steam ahead to the future.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. In fact, forgiveness is a more intense version of remembering than it is forgetting. It simply remembers in the proper context: This happened. I felt this way. I contributed this to the situation—we are always culpable to a certain extent. And still, it releases the feelings of anger, bitterness, and the necessity to have a bottle of antacid by us at all times.

To be sure, it is not magic. Like water, it is best to consume daily. And when the temperature is turned up, it is best to have a big jug of it with you at all times.

The only question left to ask is who do you need to forgive?

Stop whatever you are doing and write that name down.

Set yourself free.