Full peace and reconciliation takes time and work. Continuing to forgive. Not bringing up or dwelling on the past. Forgiving and forgetting does not mean amnesia—having no memory. Rather, it means that it no longer matters; it no longer has an effect. The pain is gone.
When I had cancer surgery, there were times afterward that I was climbing the walls in pain, even with the morphine. When I had hiccups for three days that would not stop, it felt like someone was stabbing me in the gut with each hiccup. I look back now and remember that I was in so much agony and misery. But I cannot remember the pain. You know you are healed when you have the memory, but there is no more pain. That is the peace, the shalom of God.
How do you get there? By continuing to apply the healing salve of forgiveness. The healing salve is the shalom of God, well-being within. It is deep peace that only God can give, only as we let go.
On one occasion, I was destined to share the speaking roster with someone who had wounded me severely and caused major devastation in my life many years earlier. It was a test of whether I was fully healed. I had several choices. I could have quietly backed out. I could have told the organizer I did not want to share the speaking roster, but by God’s grace, I no longer had any animosity toward this person and quietly accepted the invitation on the speaking schedule.
And although we never had opportunity to talk and this person never directly acknowledged or apologized to me for the past, I was mentioned in a positive way and I sensed in the person’s message that a change had taken place and the person had softened and experienced genuine transformation of character.
Through the years, I had continued to confess, “Lord, I forgive this person,” until I finally sensed a release. Although I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, the fact that I was able to share the speaking roster without animosity demonstrated to me that I had truly forgiven. I had let go.
When my mentors were working with me through some reconciliation issues with a couple in a conflict, I would pray as Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” My mentors encouraged me to do the tough work of reconciliation by making it more direct and personal, looking them in the eyes and saying directly to them by name, “_______, I forgive you, for you know not what you do.” That is a test of real forgiveness. When I did that, although it was hard, I felt a sense of relief and release. When we forgive, we make peace with ourselves.
If there is any pain remaining in your life from being wounded, may you find release from that pain through forgiving and letting go. May you experience God’s shalom–His deep peace.