I think it's safe to say Arianna Waller didn't mince her words. We talk a lot in the church about how awesome it is that Jesus has paid the price, how thankful we are to have been forgiven, that each and every single one of our transgressions has been wiped clean until we are whiter than the snow. And it is awesome; grace and mercy, truth and love; freedom in Christ.
But we don't always talk so much about the other side of that. The fact that we just as we are forgiven, we must ourselves forgive. More than that; Jesus said - and we pray in the Lord's Prayer - that as we forgive others, so shall we be forgiven.
And Arianna - who works with young women who have been massively wronged by the world around them - had for me a new insight into what that forgiveness is.
It is not forgetting. To forgive does not mean pretending there was no wrong, no harm done.
It is not taking responsibility for the sin myself - although where I share the blame, I need to forgive myself too.
And for me, the part I really needed to hear, it is not necessarily a once for all time thing. Arianna used the analogy of a pair of scissors. Every time you choose to forgive someone - and it is a choice, an act of will - you snip away at the cord which binds you to their debt, and transfer that debt to God. We forgive - and go on forgiving - until the memories of the sin are no longer painful. Not because we are numb, but because we are freed of the burden. No longer defined by that act.
It's a challenge. There are things in my past I tend to skip over, try not to think about. I have pretended I am ok with things, turned real hurts into dark jokes, not allowed myself to feel the anger. And in order to forgive, I have to acknowledge that there was wrong done. Ouch.
But, as I'm snipping away, new memories are surfacing. As I allow myself to see the sin for what it was, rather than attempting to work out what I myself did wrong, I can sort out the middle and see more clearly. A recognition of a fault, an act of will to forgive that specific wrongdoing, and as I did so, so God reminded me of a loving act of grace from the very same person.
Removing the blinkers is helping me see people through God's eyes. Forgiving, cutting the ties, is clearing the way for me to see people - including myself - the way God sees us.
It's hard. But its good. It's an ongoing project, and I need the Holy Spirit to open my eyes to the truth of situations. To stop attempting to justify or minimise the hurt, but instead to see it for what it is, and forgive it. And keep on forgiving it, until it doesn't hurt any more.
We've only been home a few days, and perhaps I'm still floating on a high God tide. But I can already see how this makes a difference. To forgive, that I might be free. Free to love. Free to be the child of God I was created to be.
Arianna's book "From Pain to Pearls" is here http://mercyministriesuk.oxatis.com/Mobile/MBSCProduct.asp?pdtid=13523247
and I'd recommend it. This isn't a sponsored post though; it's the thoughts of a woman awake at 2am who knows some of what she needs to do, and hopes it might help someone else too.