The Pilgrim’s Progress includes forgiveness: repeated and ongoing. For pilgrims, this is not only possible—it’s the Way. God is the Master of this lifelong Forgiveness Project. His foreknowledge and deliberate acts of Providence cause all the sordid details to fade. This is truly miraculous, since the people are still around! But God strengthens us to offload the baggage they still carry.
“But,” you say, “We’re only human.” Ah, yes, Grasshopper. You are correct: reminders happen. For my part, I can be abruptly pierced by indignation at my current situation, the result of an abusive employer; or find myself melancholy in the void of absent relatives; or endure fleeting fury over losses due to slanderous leaders; or outright repulsion upon being shunned by the foolish who never granted a hearing.
However, even with these pop-ups, we don’t walk around with a Hit List. To exercise hate accomplishes nothing except the rotting of our own flesh. The best revenge is to be undaunted, unfazed, and truly joyful. I think these offenders secretly know how the obstacles they attempted to create didn’t manage to disable me. And the added bonus? I can also see how God used all of it for my good—as well as the good of others in my healing.
Forgiveness is freedom. The Aramaic word for “forgive” means literally to “untie.” We’re untied from the fracas, not shackled by loathing. It’s the first step toward healing, and God even enables us to pray for our antagonists. Life’s too short to be cranky. (In fact, it’s a matter of life and death! ~~ “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.”)
One word of caution: forgiveness does not necessarily entail trust. Painful memories are the Pavement on the road to Protection, with Caution being a prudent travel Companion.
So each time we get knocked upside the head with the past, we remind ourselves: “I forgave that person.” If we’re weak, we repeat: “I forgave that person.” It’s the purest imitation of God: the blood of the Savior pours out those very words: “I forgave that person.” This way, Reconciliation is a Real Realm of Possibility. How good it is to imitate the One who does all things well—not the least of which is to Friend, to Forget, and to Forgive.