- A spouse has been unfaithful
- A spouse hides a major amount of debt
- A teenager “borrows” the car and wrecks it
- A friend shares your damaging secret
There are many times when we are called to forgive. Usually the moment when the offense is revealed is a powerful moment. It often feels overwhelming. Frequently, in these times, we can muster up the courage and love to say, “I forgive you and I am willing to do whatever it takes to restore this relationship.”
The time after a statement like that can be trying. We battle with fear, anger, mistrust, shame, and intrusive thoughts. We feel the full battle of redemption. We catch a glimpse of why Jesus had to die on a cross to pay for our sin. Forgiveness is excruciating.
By God’s grace, often the battle lightens. Things become a bit “normal” again. At first that is a relief; a welcomed respite. But then, as our mind and soul recovers, we begin to realize that we are “living as if nothing ever happened.”
When we offend (in lesser ways) the person whom we forgave, we are now the one to repent. Everyday irritants call for patience and grace but we still feel like we have been gracious and patient enough. Our spouse, child, or friend offends us again (in lesser and different ways) and we are called to relate to them independent of the original offense. This is post-crisis forgiveness.
Crisis forgiveness was, in many ways, easier. It was heroic. It was focused. It forced us to our knees in reliance upon God’s strength. Post-crisis forgiveness comes when we are grace-weary. It is mundane. It must cover a multitude of (little) sins, not just one big one. It can easily be distracted by so many things we are trying to catch up on (which we neglected during crisis forgiveness).
Post-crisis forgiveness calls us to appreciate the incarnation as much as the crucifixion. Christ came and lived among us for over three decades. Christ lived in our sin (a fallen broken world with selfish, manipulative, backstabbing friends) in addition to becoming sin for us. Post-crisis forgiveness calls us to emulate this aspect of Christ-likeness as well.
Too often we assume that the restoration process will go directly from forgiveness to peace. However, especially when the offense being forgiven has traumatic qualities, there is a middle stage. If we forget this, we may wrongly assume that we have failed to forgive when we meet these new challenges. Rather, it means that we have moved to a new stage of restoration; from cancelling the debt to restoring trust.
Saying that there is sometimes a middle stage to restoration does not change the necessity or requirements of forgiveness. Nor does it allow the one being forgiven to rush or demand quicker restoration. It does remind us that the Bible is more than a collection of commands. It is a portrait of our complete life experience captured in the person of Christ and with every struggle we face it is a call to marvel and emulate more of His character.
If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Forgiveness” post which address other facets of this subject.