Forgiving a Difficult Person

How would I know when I have fully forgiven someone I dislike greatly?

We must be careful here, because we are quite capable of convincing ourselves we have forgiven someone with whom we no longer have any interactions, or one toward whom we have become rather indifferent. Perhaps it would help to think of meeting that person face to face again and needing to say something. What would your body sensations tell you?

Forgiving such a person is not easy. I have personally wrestled with this for many years now. At some point it occurred to me that I will know I have finished this work when I come to the place where I truly wish good for this person; when I hope that they will come to their senses and change their ways and become more who God created them to be.

But to be truthful, I still have moments when I wish they would hurry up and leave the planet, which would be far better for everyone. And there are moments when I feel as though I would deeply resent it if they repented and changed, escaping the judgment of God which they so justly deserve. I suppose that means I’m not done yet (smiley face here).

Today my suspicions were confirmed in regard to how I would know when I have finally forgiven, because C. S. Lewis came to the same conclusion. He believed that he could hate what a man had done and still forgive him precisely because Lewis could be “sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again” (The Joyful Christian, 143).

May God gently lead me in that direction. If for no other reason than I would want someone to forgive me for any injury I might cause.

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