Locked in chains, I sit bound and shackled to memory and regret. Shivering cold, darkness blinding, I hunch low in a damp corner blaming it on them – their lies, their hate, their indifference. They’re the reason I’m here. Simmering hatred bubbles deep in my heart, warming like a blanket wrapped from inside out, a heavy cover shielding from the pain of introspection, guarding against twinges of cold, hard reality.
The truth: I’m here because I choose to be. My prison: unforgiveness. The door to my cell isn’t closed; I can walk out any time. The chains are locked, but I hold the key. The shackles are cuffs I prefer to wear – they prove to everyone just how wronged I was. I’m tormented here, but it’s easier to judge, blame, and despise those who mistreated me than it is to break free.
Breaking free is painful. It takes effort, determination, and love. It requires a decision – it demands grace. Forgiveness acknowledges injustice, but gives opportunity to walk away. Forgiveness identifies depravity, but decides to look beyond. Forgiveness is bold and graceful; it emancipates those bound to mistakes and regret. Forgiveness is messy and painful; it’s full of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s intentional, it’s costly, it’s emotional, but it’s the only way to ever truly be free.
Freedom is never free – someone always pays. Christ paid the price for our forgiveness – the freedom to accept and give grace. He made the choice to look beyond my faults, to love me in spite of all my wrong-doing. He who is perfect and knew no sin became sin for me. He chose to die so I can live freely. His forgiveness makes it possible for me to release myself and others from the guilt of sin.
How can I, having accepted His forgiveness, not extend the same to others? If I bear His name, I must bear His cross and follow in the way of forgiveness. Unforgiveness is the easy road, the wide path that leads to destruction. Forgiveness is the narrow way, the decision to work through pain.
I choose to release myself and others. I choose to accept His grace and give it away. I choose to unlock the chains, take off the shackles, and walk out the open door – His gift of freedom to me. I accept His gift of forgiveness. Will you?
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
Stay-at-home wife and mother of three, Deidra holds an M.S. in Psychology and is a blogger, free-lance writer, and author of Devotions from the Middle. She writes daily about her faith and life-experiences at The Middle.