Make-overs are like going to the movies. It’s so exciting to anticipate a new story or how our favorite actors will interpret some plot. Make-overs switch things up and change people’s perspective about a person. I am semi-addicted to “What Not to Wear” and “How Do I Look?” for that very reason. I really enjoy seeing someone look at oneself in the mirror a different way and then gain new confidence.
I think that’s what forgiveness does, too. It changes the way we look at each other-and ourselves. It makes us over. It wipes the slate clean, enabling us to give each other chances we would not otherwise be willing to give. Forgiveness isn’t as easy as a physical make-over, though. It’s a journey. Some may find that journey a lot simpler than others, but in my experience it takes several steps to accomplish it.
In all honesty, I think many of us get to that step right before crossing the finish line and quit. Recently I watched an episode of “What Not to Wear” and noticed how the woman got to the hair cutting and couldn’t give up her locks. It was a part of her for so long that the change was too scary. She couldn’t bear to let go of it and embrace the full impact of the change. Stacy and Clinton both emphasized with her that even though she had come so far and learned so much, that last piece which she was unwilling to commit muted her new clothes and make-up. The woman shrugged her shoulders and stood her stubborn ground. She would not cut off her hair.
I mention this story only as an illustration how often we may get so close to that fresh, new start but stop just short of it. When we don’t fully forgive each other or ourselves, it affects the people surrounding us. It might be hard for us to accept and admit, but it keeps hurt floating in the air. Then at any sign of another offense, the past is easily pulled from above our heads and placed back into the present. It tortures us, and it hinders us from the freedom and reconciliation God wills for us.
On the flip side, look what forgiveness allows! Forgiveness provides opportunity of new perspective and new relationships. It teaches us that although in our humanity and confusion we all fail, we can survive. We can learn how to trust in a healthy, God-willed way. We can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. We can learn something new altogether that we may have never learned had it not been for the need for forgiveness. That was a long sentence, I know. I apologize. My point is that forgiveness should not in any way open the door for more opportunities to offend. Even without forgiveness, offenses may occur. And this not to say that we should feel free to hurt someone again because we know that person will forgive it. Likewise, God does not give us grace so that sin may abound.
Forgiveness gives us a chance to start over and try it again with gained KNOWLEDGE. Sure, it’s not practical that the EFFECTS of our offenses are canceled out completely. Truly a ball will roll if we push it hard enough. How beautiful that God would teach us how to make the ball stop, though.
Today, I am the result of complete and undeserved forgiveness. For some of my offenses, I may never comprehend their impact. But I accept and am overjoyed with the impact of God’s grace. I will never be the same again. And that is EXACTLY the point. Exactly.
To forgive requires accepting change within ourselves as well as anticipating it in others. We cannot force change on others, but we can definitely help them embrace it by giving them the chance. Sometimes the confidence in that new start gets the ball rolling in the right direction. It will definitely free our own hearts from the prison of bitterness. It might be the scariest step we’ve ever had to take, but taking that last step will change us forever.