By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew
Over the past 13 years of my walk with Christ, I have heard several sermons pertaining to forgiveness. As a young Christian, I had to learn about true forgiveness. I was never in situations where I had to forgive someone for a terrible act against me – until I reached my late 20s. The act included a close family member, and it had harmful ramifications to several members of my family. I was puzzled by something – the people in my family who professed believers are the ones who are holding to the past wrong at this very moment.
It puzzles me. Do they not understand what Christ said in Matthew 6: 14-16, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (NIV). Just imagine what life would be like if Christ never forgave us for our wrongdoings? No person is perfect; we all make mistakes. There is no need to question why someone hurts you. As a Christian, it is our duty to pray to God to bring solace and to pray for the person who hurt you. The Lord told Moses in Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD” (NIV).
To make matters worse, some of them question why I talk positively about this individual. I explain to them it is not about taking sides, the issue is letting go of the past and moving on. I am joyful for life and blessed, while there is a part of their souls that protrudes disdain. I can tell in the way they talk and the way they treat others that there is blockage. These are hurt people. But, luckily for them, I pray for their soul to heal like mine did. Holding on to past transgressions is not good for mental, physical, and spiritual health. Our God is more than willing to take those burdens off us. Why hold on to negative energy? As T.D. Jakes said, “Let it go.” These lukewarm feelings toward a family member should not become a generational curse.
The most powerful testimonies of forgiveness I have witnessed are those of the family members of a murdered loved one. On Feb. 27 in Chardon, Ohio, 17-year-old T.J. Lane opened fire on a group of students sitting at a cafeteria table at Chardon High School. He killed Demetrius Hewlin, Russell King Jr., and Daniel Parmentor and wounded two others.
In an ABC News interview, Hewlin’s mother, Phyllis Ferguson, said she forgave Lane. “I would tell him I forgive him because, a lot of times, they don’t know what they’re doing. That’s all I’d say. … You have to forgive everything. God’s grace is new each and every day,” she said.
I am sure it was difficult, but the family can rest assured Christ has taken care of the situation. As commanded, I don’t forget what happened because it is a part of my history but I surely forgive.
Tonya Whitaker of Plano, Texas, is a former newspaper journalist and copy editor. She is managing editor of Inside The Pew. Follow Tonya on Twitter @twhitaker1974 and @pewtalk.