One of the Most Important Things We Will Ever Do

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by Precarious Yates

It’s one of the basic concepts of Christianity and one of the most important things we can ever do, yet often it’s neglected and it’s more difficult than we consider. Forgiveness. Forgiving those who’ve wronged us or mistreated us.

Jesus considered forgiveness so important that it’s one of the few conditionals. If we don’t forgive others, our Father in Heaven won’t forgive us (Matthew 6:15). That’s sounds pretty harsh when someone has repeatedly hurt us in horrible ways. That person should be judged, right?

But sometimes, forgiveness isn’t as much for them as it is for you.

When we harbor unforgiveness, when we lick our wounds, these wounds fester and grow bitterness.

Bitterness. Baggage. Hurts we can’t let go of. Soul wounds we wear as merit badges. These things age us. They take away from our natural, God-given beauty. Sometimes you can just tell by looking at a person that they’ve worn bitterness for way too long.

Sometimes I can see it in my own face. And then I know I have to address it. Because unforgiveness and bitterness are like a cancer.

They’re not just a cancer on our psyche. They can sometimes cause real cancer to grow in our bodies.

Any time someone causes us offense, they inflict a wound on our souls. Some of those wounds are tiny nicks, like annoying paper cuts. Sometimes they are gaping lacerations.

These issues can show up in our writing in some insidious ways. If I have been hurt and I haven’t forgiven that hurt, I tend to climb up on my soap box and start preaching.

And who likes preaching in novels?

As I said earlier, the issue of forgiveness is at least as much for us as for the person who wronged us.

I wrestled with some big questions of forgiveness while writing the coming of age novel How Shall We Love?, which came out in 2013. In this book, a teen girl named Cori is devistated by her parents’ divorce, and other things that happen after. She spirals into self-destruction, even after she has a personal encounter with God.

What is the main issue that triggers Cori’s downward spiral? Unforgiveness. In her journey toward healing, she has to identify specific hurts, be brutally honest about the fact that they hurt, and then forgive her parents for these things. And she also has to forgive herself. Her parents weren’t perfect, and she wasn’t perfect, but once she forgave them, and forgave herself, she could love them and herself freely.

One of the secrets to truly forgiving the people who wronged us is full honesty about what happened. When we say something like, “Yes, this person violated me when I was a child, and I started to lash out at every man I met because of it,” and we admit that the hurt was real, we know what it is that needs forgiving. And we can ask God for grace to fill in the gaps when extending forgiveness feels impossible.

Yesterday, we celebrated Mother’s Day. There isn’t a mother out there who hasn’t made at least one big mistake at some point in her children’s lives. Some have made so many that the child or children couldn’t possibly list them all. If you’re one of those mothers, and I know I have made a trillion mistakes as a mom, forgive yourself. If that was your mother, be honest about it, and then extend the forgiveness that will free you.

Forgiveness really does free us. It frees us to receive God’s forgiveness. It frees us to smile genuine smiles and reclaim our God-given beauty. It frees our writing from the pitfall of preaching. It frees our hearts to experience profound joy again.

Is there someone you need to forgive? Maybe it’s even a person who left an angry and venomous comment on a political post. Maybe it’s a person who is writing erotica and making 10k a week. Maybe it’s the person who flaunts about having it all together when we’re falling apart. Maybe it’s the person who behaves like a narcissist with you and constantly wears you down until you lose your cool. Maybe it’s yourself. Whoever it is, let the forgiveness flow. Let God’s grace and joy fill the empty spaces. Then pick up your pen (or keyboard) and write from a clean well! Because our world needs those kinds of stories!

God bless you! 

Sarah Smith

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.


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