At the beginning of Year 7 our year group was told there would be a school trip to Norway at the end of Year 8. I can’t tell you how excited me and my best friend Chloe* were! We signed up, paid our deposit and over the course of the next 18 months we excitedly talked about mountains, snow, abseiling, canoeing and building fires. We were the only girls going on the trip so we decided we’d have to really stick together and look after one another while we were out there.
One night with just six weeks to go before we flew off to this unexplored land, my mum walked into my room. She sat on my bed with me and said ‘Meg, I’m so sorry, I’ve just had a phone call from Chloe’s mum… She doesn’t want to go to Norway anymore.’ I remember throwing my face into my pillow and, that night, I sobbed my heart out for a very, very long time.
How could she DO this? WHY would she do this? I was cross, so upset and felt let down by my best friend.
The next day at school was painful. Although I didn’t want to talk to Chloe, deep down I was hoping she’d come up to me and apologise or give me an explanation as to why she’d suddenly pulled out. But Chloe never approached me that day. We sat apart in tutor for the first time since the start of Year 7 and I had lunch on my own in the canteen. I felt confused and let down.
Over the next few weeks I found someone else to go on the Norway trip with me, but it felt strange going without Chloe. I missed her when I was abseiling and I missed her when I was canoeing.
When Chloe passed me in the corridor with her new best friend I felt so much sadness and jealousy. I desperately missed Chloe at school, I felt absolutely lost without her. We never regained that friendship we once had. Why? Because neither of us would clear the air.
When Chloe pulled out of the trip and ignored me at school it was like she wounded me, but every time I replayed it over and over in my mind I was picking at that wound. I wasn’t letting myself heal, I was only hurting myself.
Practicing the art of forgiveness
Throughout our lives we’re wounded by people. Some may be deep wounds, others may be scratches.
Someone once told me this: ‘When we don’t forgive, it’s like we’re locked away in a prison, but the key is on the inside. You can choose to release yourself and be free by forgiving.’
Forgiveness is not saying ‘I agree with what you’ve done’ and it’s not pretending we’re not hurt. It’s letting the bitterness go and about saying ‘I choose to stop picking at this wound you’ve given me, because I want to heal.’
If you tripped and cut your knee it would be important to clean your wound and remove any dirt to prevent infection. Forgiveness is like a cleansing, wiping away the dirt and preparing ourselves to heal.
Please don’t think that I’m suggesting forgiveness is easy. I find it really hard. When I remember things people have done that have hurt me, I’m suddenly churned up with old angry thoughts and frustrations. In that immediate moment I have to choose to let it go and ask God for His peace, otherwise I waste my day being caught up in frustration.
The challenge is, because we can’t forget, we must daily practise the art of forgiveness, which means that forgiveness is a lifestyle. We’re often taught the opposite:
- ‘Distance yourself from them.’
- ‘Give them the cold shoulder.’
- ‘Tell everyone what they did.’
- ‘Teach them a lesson.’
When someone does something wrong, don’t forget all of the things that they’ve done right. Whether we realise it or not, we all wound each other, we say and do things that hurt.
I don’t know whether you feel hurt at the moment. You might feel like you have a deep wound or maybe you have a fresh scratch. Choose to stop picking at that wound of yours, replaying over and over what’s hurt you. Choose to forgive and let yourself begin to heal.