The Step We Trip On

Sharon Jaynes Forgiveness, God's love, When You Don't Like Your Story 37 Comments

It was a Saturday college football game and I was doing what I like doing best—not watching the game but observing people. My seat was on the end of a long row of Carolina blue bleachers, and a steady flow of fans walked up and down the concrete steps. After a while, I noticed that four out of five people walking up the stands tripped on the step right in front of me. At halftime, I measured and discovered that the step was about a quarter-inch higher than the others. So, the people tripped.

Forgiveness is like that step. It’s just a little bit higher than anything else we practice as Christians. Unfortunately, it’s the one step a lot of us seem to trip on the most. But we can do it. Just pick up those determined feet a little bit higher, and let’s keep going.

The high step of forgiveness is at the very core of the Christian faith and a foundational theme in Jesus’ teachings. Here are just a few examples:

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25 NIV)

“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:3-4 NIV)

Throughout Old Testament times, God’s people offered sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins, but their sacrifices were never enough—every new sin required another sacrifice. Jesus died as the final sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. His sacrifice was enough for all, for all time. I love how author and pastor Brian Zahnd describes Jesus’ forgiveness as “grace that takes the blame, covers the shame, and removes the stain and the endless cycle of revenge.”

But we aren’t merely recipients of forgiving grace through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross; we are also called to be givers of that forgiving grace. As C. S. Lewis said, “To be Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

My home growing up was writhe with anger, heartache, and pain. As you can imagine, a lot of forgiveness went on after I (and later my parents) came to Christ. It didn’t come all at once, but in stages. The decision to forgive happened in an instant–like a pellet sinking to the bottom of a glass of water. The revision of emotions happened over time–like a pellet sinking to the bottom of a glass of thick oil.

When something from the past triggers hurt in our hearts all over again, we can stop, remind ourselves that we have already forgiven that person, and ask God to help us deal with our emotions.

We can also remind ourselves of Paul’s words: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV).

“As the Lord forgave you.” Let that sink in for just a moment.

In teaching His followers to forgive, Jesus identified no exceptions—no loopholes that let us off the hook from forgiving. He mentioned no crime too heinous, no abuse too perverse, no act too vile to warrant holding on to unforgiveness.

When we make the costly choice to forgive, we not only live out a foundational tenet of our faith, but we also put a stop to the endless cycle of revenge or the desire for revenge. When we release the burden of bitterness, we make the world more beautiful through grace.

I want to be a part of that. I think you do too.

Father, I’ll admit, I’ve tripped on the step of forgiveness. Help me pick up my spiritual feet just a little higher to forgive others quickly and completely. Help me to not trip over my own sin of unforgiveness but walk the path without stumbling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Are you ready to finally let go and forgive that person who hurt you? If so, click on comment and say, “I’m ready.”

Did someone come to mind as you read today’s devotion? Someone you need to forgive? If so, click here for a free resource to walk you through the steps. 

Forgiveness is one of the many ways we can change the ending to our stories. Friend, you don’t have to carry around the burden of a broken story any longer. You can have a better one. Grab a copy of my book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories to find out how.

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Comments 37

  1. Thank you, Sharon, for this devotional which spoke to me. I used the free resource you provided to try to finally forgive some people in my life whom I keep thinking I have already forgiven, but they just keep popping back in my head. Something usually triggers the thoughts and feelings. Now I have a way to address these triggers. You are an amazing writer and your words always speak to my heart. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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  2. I have been so blessed by your Bible study The Power of a Woman’s Words.” Thank you for your insights and helps. It is a truly daily process for me praying as I go. Thanks for giving me the tools to use to control my thoughts and very frank mouth and let the Lord guide me.

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  3. Another great analogy based on something as simple as a step. Forgivness isn’t always easy, especially when someone intentionally wrongs you. But, that first step is what God calls us to make no matter what. It’s that no exception part that stretches us and sets us apart as Christians. Thank you for sharing another perfectly worded lesson for us!
    Blessings to you!

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  4. Thank you for another heartfelt word and simple but profound analogy. I made the choice to forgive but yes, triggers still come and cause me to revisit the hurt. Thank you for helping me to realize this doesn’t mean I haven’t forgiven because forgiveness is a choice not a feeling. I’m learning to give each feeling to God and He is so tender and so good. Your words have been a huge part in my healing. Thank you so much!

  5. It is hard to forgive when a person keeps hurting you all the time How can i forgive when my husband hurts me having lust and doing things making me unwanted,unrespected n making me feel i am nobody to him and says he is not doing anything ?

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      There is a difference between forgiving someone and putting yourself in harms way time and time again. It sounds like you both might need to go to counselling to stop the cycle of pain. You might need some healthy boundaries to be put in place.

  6. Hi – I love your devos! I have a problem with this Bible verse though! If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. How do you forgive them if they are not even remorseful?

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      Think about what Jesus said on the cross about the people who were crucifying them. “Father, forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing.” Those people didn’t ask for forgiveness and didn’t even know that they needed it. Yet Jesus forgave them. That’s the same way with us. We don’t forgive someone because they are remorseful or because they ask. We forgive them because it only hurts us to hold onto the unforgiveness. It is setting the prisoner free and realizing the prison is us.

  7. Thank you for once again the Holy Spirit reminded me to ask Him for the healing needed. This time its me I must forgive.

  8. I’ve been asking the Lord for help with forgiveness this week, how timely! Your writing so often meets me exactly where I am.
    God is good like that.
    I wrote this down, thank you for an incredible visual!
    “The decision to forgive happened in an instant–like a pellet sinking to the bottom of a glass of water. The revision of emotions happened over time–like a pellet sinking to the bottom of a glass of thick oil.”

  9. Hi Sharon, Please would you expand on “cutting the person lose” in the 5th step of forgiveness? This post spoke to me very deeply in relation to hurtful things my husband has said in our marriage, and sincerely apologised for. But demons have a party feeding my low self esteem with memories of these wounds.
    With the help of this wonderful post I recognise making a concrete decision to forgive these events is the only way to build myself up but I didn’t understand about how to cut my husband lose in this scenario. Any advice very welcome please!

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      Hi Orla. Cutting them loose would be not having the burden of the offense strapped to your back any longer. The word “forgiveness” in the Greek is aphemi and means to cut someone loose, to let go free. So the picture is strapping the person on your back and carrying around the burden of unforgiveness. When you forgive, or cut them loose, you are giving the burden to God and setting yourself free. It means that you are no longer going to hold that person captive in your heart, but let it go. Make more sense?

    2. I don’t know if I’m ready to forgive my father who tried to rape me and sexually abused abused my older sister and I. He never asked for forgiveness, and he has been dead a good amount of years. I and my sister have suffered greatly, throughout our lives…she died at 53 after spending a tragic life of psych wards and mental illness, I too have suffered mental illness and alcoholism but because of Jesus I have hope. I am 8 years sober, and my mental health issues are being treated …but I still have a very difficult time forgiving him.

  10. This hit close to home. I’ve thought of all the people in my life who needed MY forgiveness. Looking back, I hold no grudges against them. I’ve moved on and forgot the hurts they’ve caused in my life. It isn’t worth the room in my head. They’re no longer in my life, so why need living in my head?
    But the current person that keeps appearing my mind is my partner. We are seen married in the eye of the state we live in. We have been together 15 years. Raised 4 children. Bought a house.
    But the last few years has been horrible. In a short version of what is happening, my partner is becoming more and more like a bachelor. He lives, does and think like one. And it hurts. His choices he made are all his own. There has been no us, we, ours in years. And that hurts.
    I’ve closed my heart against him. And I’ve debated on leaving, there is no point in staying.

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