That’s the offer of forgiveness we all want to take. But when it comes to forgiveness between us humans, as far as the east is from the west is a bit much to contemplate. God knows this. In fact, when the disciples were told that they had the power to forgive sins, they were also told that they had the power to declare someone bound to their sin. I have found that this power is an essential tool for forgiving deeply without being a perfect saint. It’s a process that you take in stages as you are able:
Stage 1. I forgive the person by letting go of my right to demand to have things fixed. (See yesterday’s post Steps to Forgiveness.) I will no longer try to hold the person accountable for what they have done and I hand that job over to God. At this point, I ask God to bind them to their sin if I need to. My desire is that at some point of God’s choosing, they will understand exactly how much pain they caused.
Stage 2. Once I let go of my right and desire to make the person who hurt me do something about it, I have more resources to heal. Healing takes away my desire for the person who hurt me to suffer as I did. Now, I ask God to hold them to account by giving them just as much understanding as they need to repent (ie be sorry for what they did). I still consider the person bound to what they did, but not as fully as before.
Stage 3. As life goes on and what happened to hurt me gets inextricably woven into the past, I will often get to a place of deep forgiveness and release. When I am ready (and this is a process which can take years), I pray this about the tie between the person who hurt me and their sin: “God, if they need to be tied to their sin for their own benefit, please use it as you see fit. But I don’t need them to be tied to it anymore and I hope that they don’t either.”
And that is how a non-saint learns to forgive as we want to be forgiven.