Maybe forgiveness seems like an act of human muscle and will. But I have recently realized that is not true. Although we may desire to become free from resenting someone for hurting us, we cannot forgive that person on our own. In the lyrics of a Christian song, the singer says, “Father, give me grace to forgive them.” This request captures how we forgive.
Forgiveness is not a human accomplishment (nothing really is!). Since forgiveness is one of the greatest and most remarkable things that God does with us, we can only forgive someone if God gives us grace to forgive that person. What its takes to receive that Grace, I don’t exactly know, but I know it starts with prayer and humility to know that you cannot forgive someone on your own and out of your sheer will power.
I found this quote as I was scrolling through my Facebook memories:
Behold, this is the true and the Christian humility. In this you will be able to achieve victory over every vice, by attributing to God rather than to yourself the fact that you have won.
+ St. Martin of Braga +
Holding grudges and being angry at someone are vices that we need to overcome. We can only overcome them if we submit our will to God, ask Him for help, and are confident that we can accomplish nothing without Him.
So, yes, we need to forgive, but through the mysterious grace of God. Only when we forgive through God’s grace can we be really set free and find Joy in the fact that God Himself forgives us always and loves us always regardless of what we do of sins or disobediences. His grace to forgive allows us to win freedom from the sin holding us back and also helps us better appreciate and understand His forgiveness and love.
It is all a mystery, and you have to live it.