As I was in between meetings, I was pondering the difference between grace and forgiveness and it really got me to thinking.
In our last TIOT (Talk It Out Thursday), I asked the questions: if you part ways with a friend, do you wish them well and also if you would allow that friend back into your space over time. And while I believe that each situation is different and the offense that was committed plays a major part, it made me realize that we can forgive and not have to apply grace. But there is NO way to apply grace and not forgive. This caused my brain to travel down a rabbit hole. Mainly because I thought that if I was forgiving, I was giving you grace. But technically, that isn't the case.
Let's take a look to see what forgiveness means. The word forgive means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake. This means that you have come to a place where you are ready to drop whatever it is you are feeling towards the person/people who have offended you. When you forgive someone, you have decided that whatever took places doesn't get to have the power to upset you any longer. It doesn't mean that you forgot it, but it means that this particular situation doesn't stop you from moving forward. Now, when the offense comes from a person who you consider a friend or someone in your circle, it can have a completely different effect on how you process this. It can really throw you off and take longer than normal because you have to process so many other things.
Not saying that there is anything wrong with what you have to go through to get to forgiveness, but the ultimate goal is to get to that point. Growing up, Matthew 6:14 was used as a way to get us to forgive. It says "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." And while this seems like a scare tactic, it worked lol. Because I truly thought I had to forgive people in order for God to forgive me. Technically that's wrong because Jesus died for my sins before I was even born....sooooo, it's kinda already covered lol. But what I have personally learned is that not forgiving can put you in a place where to stop growing. It puts you there by consuming your mind of the offense and making you believe that you can't move on because moving on makes it look as if you forgot and the person can do it to you again. And nobody wants to be got more than once. Because who I look like, boo boo the fool??
Forgiveness doesn't mean that you give people permission to do you wrong, but it does mean that you allow your heart to move on from the offense WHILE setting a boundary that lets others know what you will and won't accept. In that boundary, it may cause you to release the relationship, and that's okay!!!! You have to do what's best for you. NOW!!!! If you should choose to let this person/people back in the same space, you have decided to give both forgiveness AND grace! And this people, takes time!!!!
Grace is the act of forgiving a person for the offense and allowing them to inhabit the space they were once in without consequences. This requires an intimate relationship. This requires prayer and direction from God. Not everyone is granted this type of access and it will require so much more from you when the offense happens and you try to process it. In this situation, you can definitely extend grace to the person, but you also have to extend grace to yourself. Because during this process, you will go through an array of emotions that will cause you to question yourself, the person, your actions, your thoughts, and cause you to create walls that can be damaging going forward. Make no mistake, this can weigh heavily on you! But it is up to you to choose if it is a place where you can truly extend grace or if it's a place that just warrants forgiveness and you to move on.
The decision isn't one that should be carried light. Often times, we experience the offense so that we can examine the relationship or the lack thereof. And we have to remember, it is okay! If you should choose either grace or forgiveness, be confident in your choice and remember what is required of whatever you choose!