In Others’ Words: Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past.” ~Unknown

I keep a gift beside my bed. It’s wrapped in shiny blue paper and adorned with a white bow.

And, yes, I know what’s in the box.

And, no, the gift isn’t for me.

I gave the gift to someone more than a decade ago. Inside the box is a slip of paper with the words “I forgive you” written on it.

I could tell you how I’d been hurt.

But that’s not the point.

Forgiveness is.

We both needed forgiveness.

I had to let go of the hurt. Not just the pain caused by the harm I’d experienced, but also the pain I was causing myself by refusing to forgive.

And I had to realize every single person deserves forgiveness. And, yes, sometimes that is unfathomable to me. But I’m not God. And his thoughts, his ways are higher than mine.

And so, I gave someone what I’d been given: forgiveness.

And, yes, I wrapped it up in pretty paper and a white bow.

Because really, there’s no greater gift, is there? And it deserves a little extra touch. I’ve learned you can’t always dress up truth so that it looks pretty — but forgiveness deserves to come gift-wrapped.

The box sits besides my bed as a reminder because I don’t want to think about my past. I want to think about today. Now. And how hope — and forgiveness — spills over into my tomorrows.

In Your Words: What would your photograph of forgiveness look like?

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41 Comments

  1. March 19, 2012, 5:01 am   /  Reply

    What a powerful post and a great idea! I love it.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 6:48 am   /  Reply

      Good morning, Michelle!
      I’m glad to hear your were encouraged by today’s post.
      🙂

  2. March 19, 2012, 6:06 am   /  Reply

    So cool, Beth. What a palpable example of living out faith! I’ll probably be thinking of this question all day. It might look like a spring flower peeking out of the ground, representing newness.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 6:49 am   /  Reply

      🙂
      I know how you like thoughts …

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 6:50 am   /  Reply

      I like your glimpse of forgiveness, Wendy.

  3. March 19, 2012, 6:07 am   /  Reply

    Wow….I seriously want to use that quote in the book I’m writing right now. It is SO applicable. I’ve never heard forgiveness described like that.

    Beth, I love that you have it wrapped in a box. What a great visual reminder, when your hurt starts to take over, that you have already forgiven.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 6:50 am   /  Reply

      Consider the quote shared, Katie!
      🙂

  4. March 19, 2012, 6:46 am   /  Reply

    Whoa, that’s excellent. My small box would have a beautifully-colored polished inside and I would sometimes open and look at to remember that time beautifies what had been rough before. Wrapping? White background w/ dark green and silver curlicue designs printed over, almost like ferns, so that I sense the newness and freshness of spring woods each time I see it–that’s what forgiveness is like to me.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 6:51 am   /  Reply

      A beautiful “photography” of forgiveness, Dee.

  5. March 19, 2012, 7:18 am   /  Reply

    I absolutely love this, because forgiveness should be a one-time gift, but it’s not. Sometimes, in our hurt, we have to give the gift over and over again. So the fact that it’s sitting there as a visual reminder to you is so, so cool…a reminder to forgive again and again if you feel any bitterness creeping back into your heart.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 7:55 am   /  Reply

      Lindsay,
      I’ve thought about tucking the box away … once time during a move, it got misplaced. I’ve discovered it’s best to keep it right there on my bedside table.

  6. March 19, 2012, 7:25 am   /  Reply

    Whoa. Powerful. Your post and the quote.

    I had to forgive a friend once. Seriously didn’t want to. But my mom invited me to a women’s conference right around that time and guess the topic. Yup, forgiveness. The speaker challenged us to go out and buy a gift for the person we were struggling to forgive. I still remember standing in line at that cash register…gritting my teeth…but buying the gift was an important first step. The speaker also talked about how feelings follow decisions…I may not have felt like forgiving, but I needed to make the decision and trust God that eventually my feelings would catch up. (And they did and she’s one of my best friends to this day!)

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 7:54 am   /  Reply

      Wow.
      Powerful story, Melissa.
      Thanks for sharing it.
      Did you wrap the gift?
      😉

  7. Jeanne T
    March 19, 2012, 7:26 am   /  Reply

    Beth, I love this quote and your thoughts that follow. Forgiveness can be difficult to genuinely extend. I’m learning it is a process. I forgive, and then find myself remembering and having to forgive again. At times, I have to ask God to help me forgive and extend love because in and of myself, I just can’t do it.

    I love your visual of the forgiveness-gift. I’ll have to think on my photograph of forgiveness. I’ll get back to you. 🙂

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 7:54 am   /  Reply

      Forgiveness = a process.
      One time choice … and then over and over and over again.

  8. March 19, 2012, 7:34 am   /  Reply

    Wow, beautiful post.

    I think forgiveness is something we think is easy to do until we actually have to do it when it counts. I like Wendy’s example of a new spring flower. Forgiveness is new life.

    Thanks for the post, Beth. It really blessed me today.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 7:53 am   /  Reply

      Forgiveness is the hardest choice I’ve ever had to made.
      You know who has/have taught me the most about forgiveness?
      My children.
      They seem extraordinarily good at forgiving.

  9. March 19, 2012, 7:52 am   /  Reply

    I love this! Love the quote! I think it would be a memory box. Empty. To remind me that while I haven’t forgotten pain, I have let it go and that’s what forgiveness is. Letting pain go.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 9:26 am   /  Reply

      Love that “photograph” of forgiveness, Jess.

  10. March 19, 2012, 7:59 am   /  Reply

    My photo: a sunrise. It’s a new day.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 9:05 am   /  Reply

      Love sunrises.
      Love your answer.

  11. March 19, 2012, 8:39 am   /  Reply

    Forgiveness is freedom. Not for the other person, but for you.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 9:05 am   /  Reply

      Agreed, Pat.
      Agreed.

  12. March 19, 2012, 12:15 pm   /  Reply

    Wow! What a quote, Beth. That bit of wisdom is so very true.

    I experienced such freedom when I forgave someone who hurt me deeply in the past. I stopped feeling like I deserved better and let go of my expectations. What was, was. What is, is what I make of it. I had the choice of living in the past or embracing the present and looking to the future. I prayed often and fervently, and the Lord helped me made a wise decision.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 1:47 pm   /  Reply

      Your reaction –and a lot of people’s reactions — is exactly how I felt about this quote when I read it, Keli.
      And that’s why I had to post it.
      Thanks for sharing your story.

  13. March 19, 2012, 12:22 pm   /  Reply

    Absolutely beautiful, Beth. And so very true.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 1:47 pm   /  Reply

      🙂

  14. Loree Huebner
    March 19, 2012, 1:41 pm   /  Reply

    Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. Forgiveness is such a huge gift. I’ve given and received.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 1:47 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks, Loree.

  15. March 19, 2012, 7:28 pm   /  Reply

    What an awesome idea, Beth. Forgiveness isn’t easy when the hurts cut deep, but no hurts cut deeper than Jesus’ scars.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 19, 2012, 7:38 pm   /  Reply

      Well said, Sarah.

  16. March 20, 2012, 8:14 am   /  Reply

    Beth,

    My photograph of forgiveness would be a black and white shot of hands releasing a white dove into the air. I’ve clutched that little bird too long at times, but in the act of letting it go, have freed myself.

    Enjoyed the post and responses.

    Julia

    • Beth Vogt
      March 20, 2012, 8:35 am   /  Reply

      Beautiful imagery, Julia.

  17. March 20, 2012, 9:24 am   /  Reply

    I love that you have a visual to remind you.So often I have forgiven someone only to take it back later when the hurt comes up somewhere. I have a list of people to forgive from the past few years and it isn’t as though they have asked to be forgiven, that would make it easier–it is on me to forgive and let it go. I must be honest–I’m working on it and when I get there– I know it will be amazing!

    • Beth Vogt
      March 20, 2012, 9:57 pm   /  Reply

      I’ve realized that some people I need to forgive (that I have chosen to forgive) will never ask me to forgive them. It’s not going to happen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t work it out at the foot of the cross — and leave it there.

  18. March 20, 2012, 12:33 pm   /  Reply

    Really important post, Beth. Without forgiveness, we can’t get too far down the path God has for us…..BTW, Lily Tomlin is credited with saying, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elisha-goldstein-phd/forgiveness-means-giving_b_620158.html

    • Beth Vogt
      March 20, 2012, 9:57 pm   /  Reply

      Thanks for sharing this, Katy.
      Usually I like to track down “Unknown” quotes. I’m way-deep in edits right now and just didn’t take the time. Thank you, thank you.

  19. March 20, 2012, 12:37 pm   /  Reply

    But I should quote Lily accurately, sheesh! “Forgiveness MEANS giving up all hope for a better past.”

    • Beth Vogt
      March 20, 2012, 9:58 pm   /  Reply

      🙂 😉

  20. Megan DiMaria
    March 21, 2012, 1:24 pm   /  Reply

    Lovely post. I’m glad you’ve forgiven, and I hope the pain in your past dissipates like chalk dust beneath your feet.

    For me, forgiveness would look like a yo-yo. I’m a serial forgiver. I give forgiveness then recall the hurt and feel resentful, and then I forgive again. And again. And again.

    • Beth Vogt
      March 21, 2012, 3:18 pm   /  Reply

      Thank you for the “chalk dust” picture, Megan. Vivid.
      And I don’t fool myself that there won’t be times I won’t have to pick that box up again and remind myself what’s in it.

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