Day 1 – How I’m going to explore forgiveness

We must inhabit our experiences. Our culture these days is entranced by ideas and concepts as though all we are is an idea. As though you could summarize a human with concepts and labels.

I disagree, and here’s why.

Even God became flesh. The concept of God is a pretty big one, so Jesus was incarnated as a human with all of the implications of that huge statement.

The key is… incarnation. Embodiment.

So, my approach here in this 4 week journey on the topic of forgiveness is going to be autobiographical.

My story is a singular instance of what you have experienced yourself, and many others before us. We share a common story, but with the particulars that make it our own.

So without drowning in these ideas, let’s move onto something seemingly unrelated.

I grew up in a suburb of Calgary, AB, Canada in the 70’s and 80’s. As a kid, I’d ride my bicycle with my friends all around the neighbourhood.

We lived on the far end of the community and, in fact, the very edge of the city for quite a while. At the other end of the community was a strip mall with a Mac’s convenience store (think 7-Eleven, my American friends), a little grocery store and then across the street our community swimming pool.

My elementary school (for grades 1-6) was far enough away from my house that I caught a yellow school bus every morning and afternoon to get to and from school. But it was also close enough that I’d walk home for lunch if I wanted.

Because both my parents worked I grew up with quite a bit of freedom. And I loved it.

If you’ve ever watched “Stranger Things” on Netflix, you’ll immediately know what my childhood was like.

The Mac’s store was a wonderful destination for me. They had pop and candy and best of all, NHL hockey cards. Every day in school we’d trade hockey cards!

I checked Google maps today, and apparently it’s only a 4 minute drive from the house I grew up in to the Mac’s store.

…Not when you’re 10 years old and all you’ve got is a bicycle without gears!

But I was determined to buy hockey cards and that was the place to do it.

Getting there was easy… it was all downhill… It was the return trip that was the problem.

I would pedal as hard as I could when I started back from the little strip mall. Eventually, I’d have to dismount and walk my bike until I’d recovered my strength.

I clearly remember my envy when another cyclist (probably a teenager) passed me by and could ride all the way up the hill without stopping. I yearned for that ability. I fought with that hill.

Aside: You know how when you’re really pushing the pedals hard your bike swings side to side?

Well, I learned the hard way that if you have a bag of groceries on your handle bars that motion can spell disaster. The bag caught my front tire spokes and I flipped right over the handle bars and landed on the sidewalk in front of my bike!

Yes I fought with that hill.

But wow, weren’t those simpler times?

Forgiveness is a little like that hill. When you’re new to it, it’s unbeatable. It’s too big and you do not have the capacity for it. Walking is required at parts and sometimes all you can do is sit down.

But as you grow, it becomes possible to cycle all the way to the top.

I’m not saying that if you’re struggling with forgiveness that you’re somehow immature… please don’t hear it this way.

I’m saying that the feeling of frustrated wanting… of painful desire… of conquering that hill reminds me of the desperation and determination I faced with forgiveness.

Wistfully seeing others climb the same hill and wondering if I’d ever be able to do the same.

Do you know that feeling?

Featured image: “The House I Grew Up In.”
Photo credit: Google Maps

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  1. I think that is why so many people leave their church for another. They haven’t been taught how to rely on God’s power to forgive. It just stays hanging out there.

  2. It took me a long time to be able to forgive a friend who deserted me & our friendship. Today, decades later, I am able to pray for her & her well being. Her actions were cold & I believe, one day, we will meet in Heaven & all will become clear to both of us.

  3. I do struggle that way with forgiveness. I can think that I have forgiven a person and I feel so relieved, and the next day something stirs up the hurt again and forgiveness is out the door.

  4. I pray everyday that I am able to forgive others..
    I pray everyday for my church members to forgive me included to forgive each other..

  5. I have difficulty with forgiving someone that has hurt me and my reputation by evil lies because of jealousy
    I just can’t move past it😢

  6. I could really relate to the analogy of the hill! I could also relate to growing up in the 70 and 80s with working parents, neighborhood and a bike as a friend sometimes foe lol!

    I think at times I am making the hill of forgiveness and then a memory( not asked for memory) or even just the sight of a an older couple will trigger anger, resentment bitterness and extreme hurt towards my ex husband. I make ground and then loose it. I feel like I am making head way but have yet to find total forgiveness and surrender. I pray for it often so I know in my heart God will help me but sometimes I wonder if the triggers are part of being human?

  7. I can certainly relate to forgiveness as a hill because some people & situations I find to be easier to forgive whereas bigger ones take time. I have to hold on to God’s Promise that everything is possible with Him if I believe and persevere.

    I read this quote yesterday that really touched me: “Forgiveness is not about forgetting what someone did to you. It’s about saying to God, “I give them and the situation to You because I know You can handle it better than I can”” I hope this might encourage others as it did me.

  8. I understand this feeling well. I struggle because in my head, I know that I must forgive in order to be forgiven. I try hard, I even have convinced my mind at times that I have forgiven but then TRUTH hits hard in the heart when I feel resentment, bitter, anger, hurt and even judgement that person doesn’t deserve forgiveness. I’ve tried to justify it because the person feels no remorse, the person hasn’t admitted wrong or even tried to apologize. I don’t think the person has even asked for forgiveness. This person also refuses to hear anything of God. Makes it easy to justify but I know God says forgive, not based on anything they do or don’t do. God says forgive because He commands it and if we don’t forgive He won’t forgive us.
    I really want to truly forgive to obey My God’s commands and honor Him ….. but How? How do I truly get the bitterness out of my heart and see that person as a creation of God?

  9. When my former son in law left my daughter & 2 children for another woman, I wondered if forgiveness for such deep & ongoing pain would ever be possible. The hill was steep & impossible to climb for an extended time. By God’s grace this hill has been conquered. I’m sure there will be others to climb.

  10. I can relate to your story. Life seems like a up hill battle where there are people going past you with easy while you struggle. I ask why can’t I do the same. Forgiveness I feel to me they are just words. I feel it believe they WILK do it again so why forgive? We humans don’t forget and can’t forget which is a hindrance to forgiveness. God does forgive and forgets. I can’t remember where I read that in the bible. If I can’t forget , I ask god to forgive them. God knows best.