The risk of forgiveness

One of the subtle difficulties of forgiveness is its riskiness…

Though wrong does not disappear when I forgive, it loses its grip on me and is taken over by God who knows what to do.  Such a decision involves risk, of course: the risk that God may not deal with the person as I would want.

I never find forgiveness easy and rarely find it completely satisfying.  Nagging injustices remain, and the wounds still cause pain.  I have to approach God again and again, yielding to him the residue of what I thought I had committed to him long ago”. ~ Philip Yancey

Have we come to rely too much on our all too familiar sense of justice rather than the tougher road of grace?  And are our efforts to forgive not often thinly-veiled hopes that God will act as our avenger, carrying out our wishes for us?  If so, is this really forgiveness?  Is this really surrender?  Mark me down under the ‘No’ column.

Forgiveness is far bigger in concept than it is in common practice.  I know of what I speak, I have been self-deceived in my efforts to forgive many times.  To forgive is to lay down our weapons, to neither demand nor expect justice.  To forgive is hands-off.  We no longer direct traffic.  We exercise trust.  We let go, and let God.  How he deals with it is none of our business.

Some tough, yet wonderfully freeing medicine I needed to be reminded of today.  I need to take a risk when I forgive.




About Chaz

Husband, father, brother, son, friend. Sober member of AA. Grateful for the life God gave me and for the happy struggle of recovery.
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19 Responses to The risk of forgiveness

  1. Barb says:

    Wow! I hope that I can catch your vision of total and complete forgiveness and exercise it!

    • Chaz says:

      Thanks Barb…. it is something I continue to work on moving toward. It is a great journey.
      So much better than the opposite that I used to practice.

  2. Heidi says:

    Agreed. You say it so much quicker than I do! Same idea, more words. 🙂

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Heidi…. loved your post too. I too had a huge awakening learning to pray for those who hurt me and for whom I had a distaste. It is so powerful and very much in keeping with how God as I see him operates. His ways are so much higher than ours… and so much more effective in life.



  3. T.K. Coleman says:

    You’re right on point with this one, Chaz. It’s taken me some time to learn this lesson and it still needs to be continually reinforced. Bitterness and frustration with someone else isn’t worth the joy and freedom it costs us to hold onto. Thanks for these insights, bro.



    • Chaz says:

      Yes TK, so many of us have become such tangled creatures. Continual reinforcement is such a necessary ingredient to growth. Yet every bit of progress is exciting and energizing. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the dialogue.



  4. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way in many cases. They say, until you can learn to forgive, pray for that person every day until the pain subsides. It may take a while to get there, but eventually you do. Sometimes we must forgive another and sometimes we need to forgive ourselves. Which is a taller order than the former. Letting go and letting God is necessary for sobriety to work its miracles. The longer I hold on to bitterness and anger the longer it takes to achieve forgiveness.


    • Chaz says:

      Agreed Jeremy…. we become what we practice. And for years, like so many of us, I practiced the resentment and unforgiveness until I mastered it… yet without even clearly realizing I was doing it. So it is completely natural that we would need to learn our new ways by repetition over time. And in time, we learn more and more about how to be this new person and the subtlties of our old ways are revealed. Light is shone on them so we can recognize them and let them go.

      Thanks for popping by. Ciao. Chaz

  5. Piper Bayard says:

    I love your blog, Chaz. So often we are defined by our hurts. When we forgive, we are pruning away a part of ourselves, and we don’t know what will grow in its place. Forgiveness is an act of faith. Thanks for this.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Piper… nice to hear from you. Yes, I have pruned enough of myself away and given myself away. To what end? Nothing good. Yet somehow we become self-decieved as a culture that unforgiveness accomplishes something. If faith is the evidence of things unseen, then it certainly applies to forgiveness because I cannot see the full scope of how forgivness works. So I take a chance and do it by faith.

      Thanks for popping by and adding to the dialogue.



  6. Pingback: The End is Near (and we deserve it). . . . Homeowner Forecloses on Bank of America « Author Piper Bayard

  7. scotty says:

    Great post. Yancey is one of my favorite religious writers, but I’ve never seen that quote. It’s so, so true.

    • Chaz says:

      HI Scotty…. the quote is from “What’s so Amazing about Grace”. I found it very descriptive of a process I go through. The part of forgiveness through grace that I don’t understand I leave to faith.



  8. Texanne says:

    Excellent thoughts, Chaz. Somehow, I never stop needing to be reminded of the need to let go of my need for justice and take “the tougher road of grace.” Good work. Thank you.

    • Chaz says:

      Texanne…. Thanks for your reply. I suspsect that the fact we live in a culture that bathes us in and feed us all a steady message of justice, vengeance, and unforgiveness, especially for little grudges and resentments leaves us needing to be reminded repeatedly. I know I do yet, the journey to making forgiveness the default does seem to be gaining more ground with each reminder.



  9. Debby says:

    “To forgive is hands off.” I like that because it is so true. Great passage by Yancey too. Forgiveness is certainly a theme that continually comes up with our men working through their recovery and if the rest of us are honest, all of us need to face it too. Thanks Chaz.

    • Chaz says:

      Hi Debby…. thanks for your reply.

      I can only imagine how often it would come up with men in recovery… which of course I am one myself.

      Many of us drank and drugged over pain from harms and wrongs of the past, as well as the ongoing and often increasing pain we turned it into by our resentment and unforgiveness. Which our self-pity loves to stir up in us.

      I was a prisoner of unforgiveness on so many levels. Then when I finally decided I wanted to forgive, I tried to do it in my own strength and unrecovered understanding. Which of course didn’t work. I did not have the strenth to forgive and understand the situation. I still don’t. That is why I have to give it up and stop thinking about it. I have to be hands-off. I have to turn it over, lay down my weapons, forego vengance, and refocus elsewhere.

      In time, God always shows me some greater understanding that helps me during the times that the pains and injustices are put in front of me again. But each time, the sting is less. I process it differently. I dont go to the same places of unforgiveness that I used to. I re-surrender and TRUST God with the problem. It is his to deal with it his way. I dont have to understand it. In fact, I dont have to think about it ever again.

      God has a sea of forgetfulness… into which he deliberately throws the records of our wrongs. Should I not endeavor to have the same?



  10. Heidi says:

    ‘Sea of forgetfulness’… I love that. So healing, all this forgiveness that I’m learning. Thank you for the topic. When I first read your post I didn’t know I was about to be slammed with a huge issue, but God knew. It was preparatory for me and now I’m again at peace and joy.

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