For years, I have been intrigued by one particular person and truly wish I would have had an opportunity to meet her and hear her story. She has been on my mind more often than I can count, especially when I think of where I want to be with the issue of forgiveness. For me, Corrie Ten Boom is a glowing example of this aspect of the soul, and I have chosen to make her biography is one which inspires me to action.
One notable act she is known for her was her act of forgiveness years after she was released from the concentration camp, when she came face to face with the guard who participated in her imprisonment with her sister. When this guard requested her forgiveness, her humanity fought against it, but she knew forgiveness was an act of the mind which when extended would be followed eventually by the feeling. Her desire to forgive brought her to her knees, asking God to literally help her extend her hand because she did not have the ability on her own as the images of the past pain flashed through her mind. Amazingly, when she found out moments later in a conversation with the guard, that he had become a Christian, she was compelled to forgive with her whole heart, and the attitude encompassed her entire being, bringing tears, warmth and peace throughout her entire body as she truly extended her hand and offered genuine forgiveness.
“Forgiveness is the highest, most beautiful form of love.” Robert Muller
I am so moved by this account of a woman who suffered greatly but had the ability to see beyond her circumstances. Forgiveness can be an agent of freedom, and the lack thereof a chain of bondage for the soul which can have physical and emotional consequences. Forgiveness so often does not happen because it is mistaken with restoration. Forgiving someone does not mean the relationship has to be restored, especially if the other person is not willing to do their part. It simply means you are not holding them accountable any longer, and you can move on in your life.
I understand the ability to extend forgiveness to someone who asks for it, but I must admit that I struggle greatly with extending forgiveness when someone does not feel they need it or continues to inflict pain in spite of boundaries which are continually placed for protection. It is not an easy road to contemplate walking. Yet, I know that forgiveness must be offered without the prerequisite of the person asking for it. All too often, my humanity wants justice, my pain wants retribution, and my emotions cloud my reason. Yet, I am reminded, like Corrie Ten Boom that in order to be forgiven, I must forgive, no matter what the injury.
Do I do it for the person who is not asking for it? The answer is NO! I do it for me! And you do it for you! We do it so we can experience freedom and so the chains that bind can be forever broken!
We must come to grips with the fact that some people, unlike the guard in Corrie Ten Boom’s life, will probably never ask for forgiveness, nor ever understand the great price paid for it to be offered, but my prayer is that God will continually strengthen you and me to extend our hand without pulling it back, allowing Him to provide the attitude and feeling to follow!