No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, no matter who you’re voting for this year, I think we can all agree Donald Trump has said some pretty horrible things. And by ‘pretty horrible’, I mean #$*@%!$* messed up. He’s lumped all Mexican immigrants into one, horrible group of drug dealing rapists. He’s proposed the idea of killing the families of terrorists. He’s promised to send back all refugees if he’s elected. Let’s not even get started about all of the comments he’s made about “the blacks”. He immaturely, unintelligently insults anyone speaks out against him. And he’s claimed women – half of the world – need to be treated like sh**.
And you know what? I forgive him.
Not in the Biblical, begrudgingly I-have-to-for-the-bible-tells-me-so. Not in the I “forgive” you with a fake smile pasted on, but I actually secretly still hate you. I really, truly forgive Donald Trump.
Because, what I’m learning, is that forgiveness has a whole lot more to do with me – and my life and my soul and my sanity – than with the other person. I’ve been learning a lot about forgiveness lately…
Forgiveness isn’t about me and Donald as much as it is about me and God. As someone pointed out in my Bible study last week, we’re over here getting so upset over what he’s saying, what he’s doing, loosing sleep over his latest remarks… and yet it doesnt effect him at all. Trump is not laying awake at night, worried that Krysti Wilkinson is upset with him. He doesn’t care that I disagree with his remarks. It doesn’t matter to him that I am offended by his beliefs. Me forgiving him doesn’t change his life at all, yet it frees my life immensely.
Forgiveness isn’t dependent on Trump apologizing. Donald Trump will never ask for my forgiveness. Ever. I’m even going to go as far as saying Trump will never apologize for any of his hurtful remarks (unless, of course, he’s trying to win over a few votes). I can forgive him anyway. I need to forgive him anyway. Forgiveness doesn’t happen at the point where someone says, “I’m sorry, can you forgive me?” and I reply, “Yes!” It happens when I actually, truly forgive them in my heart. Them asking has almost nothing to do with it.
Forgiveness is about justice. Forgives is about consequences and people paying for their actions and all those things that we crave when someone wrongs us. However, forgiveness is allowing God to be the one who delivers the justice. It’s laying our hurts at the feet of Jesus and giving him the power that we long to hold on to. Forgiveness is realizing God is a much fairer judge than I will ever be, and trusting Him to do His best, in His timing. It’s giving away any power I think I justly deserve, power I want to hold over the other person. It’s letting go – not to be forgotten, not to be lost in the wind. But to be dealt with – just in a different way than I would have chosen. Donald Trump will receive justice – somehow, someway – for his actions. I just won’t be the one to serve it to him.
Forgiveness isn’t deeming his actions permissible. I’m not pretending that his words aren’t hurtful. I’m not reading his incredibly sexist, belittling remarks and saying, “Oh, that’s okay!” “No, it’s fine.” “Don’t worry about it, not a big deal.” I’m feeling what I feel. I’m seeing the words for what they are, his actions for what they are. But I don’t hate him for it – because living a life consumed by hate is bad for my soul. I’m still judging his actions – what’s okay, what’s not okay. I’m keeping track of what he says and what he does and what he doesn’t do – because that’s how you determine safe people. But I’m not hating him for it.
Forgiveness isn’t allowing his actions to continue. I’m going to fight, as hard as I can, to not make his words a reality. I realize this is a bit difficult, considering he’s running for President of the United States and I’m, basically, a nobody. But Donald Trump does not have my vote. Donald Trump does not have my support. I’m realizing the importance of starting conversations with friends, with trusted people, about how scary his ideas are. I’m trying to spread awareness of his issues. I’ll do what I can – which in the grand scheme of things might not be much – to keep him out of office. Because although I forgive him, I don’t think he should continue on in the same manner.
Jesus commands me to forgive him. We aren’t called to live easy lives, we aren’t called to like everyone, we aren’t called to be pushovers. But we are called to be people of love – and that involves forgiveness. It also involves hard conversations and speaking truth and discernment in what moving forward looks like – but forgiveness is a commandment. Of everyone. We don’t get the choice of following it or ignoring it, depending on our mood. We have been commanded to forgive every single person who has wronged us, of every single wrong they have committed against us. There’s no denying that.
Donald Trump is not the enemy. I wish he was, because it would be a much easier battle to fight. But our enemy is so much bigger, so much more complicated. Our enemy isn’t one politician or one party or one country – it’s sexism, racism, bigotry. It’s hate. Lies. Fear. Evil. Our fight isn’t against one man or woman, it’s against the evil one. And I’m sure he loves it when we focus all our energy on hating each other, instead of hating him. When we invest so much in fighting each other, instead of fighting him. I hate the evil that I see manifesting in Trump, I hate the areas of his life where the devil seems to have a foothold and he is using it to spread hurt. But if I hate the person, then I miss the mark. Then the enemy has won. (This round, at least. The battle is still raging.)
And, so, I forgive Donald Trump. I see headlines and am still terrified he might be our next president, I hear his insults and my mouth still drops open in disbelief. But the anger, the hatred, is gone. And I wonder, is it easier to forgive a far off celebrity than a close and personal friend…?
Forgiveness isn’t about me and them, as much as it is about me and God. That cliche proverb about holding onto anger being like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die is so very true. 9 times out of 10, forgiving the person who has hurt me has no actual effect on the person. It has so much effect on me. It’s taken me years to fully learn this, to realize the anger and bitterness I was holding on to – that I was justified in holding on to! – was actually hurting me more than them. And when I finally forgave them? Their lives didn’t change whatsoever. But mine improved drastically. Choosing forgiveness has allowed me to also choose healing, choose wholeness, choose freedom.
Forgiveness isn’t dependent on them apologizing. What I’ve come to realize is the more someone hurts you, the less likely they are to apologize for it. It’s sad. It sucks. But, at least in my life, it’s true. I get apologies for cancelled plans, for words misspoken, for jokes that have gone too far. I get “I’m so so sooooo sorry” texts for people running late, for absentee friendships, for harsh words. But the big heartaches? The cruel lies, the intentional hurt, the scaring-for-life moments? Those usually get followed by silence. Or, at best, half apologies. And I use to prey on this, seize, hold it in my hand triumphantly – “They haven’t even said sorry! They won’t even fully apologize to me!” Clearly, that’s grounds for my lack of forgiveness? Wrong. So wrong. I have to choose to forgive them anyway. I even have to choose to forgive them for not asking for my forgiveness. Ironically, it’s those instances of forgiveness – they didn’t even ask for it and they definitely don’t deserve it – that have typically been the most freeing.
Forgiveness is about justice. It is not, unfortunately, about revenge. Far too often, I wish it were. Because far too often I wish I could seek revenge on those who have hurt me. I used to think forgiveness involved forgetting about justice – that’s grace. That’s completely different. Forgiveness is craving justice, and allowing the one, perfect Judge to administer that how He sees fit. Forgiveness is taking the power you feel justified in carrying around – power that comes from being the one who was hurt, the one who was wronged, the one in the right – and laying it at the feet of Jesus. Justice will come, for our God is faithful. But it might come in a different way than our humans minds can comprehend.
Forgiveness isn’t deeming their actions permissible. Some people have hurt me in unimaginable ways. Some people have done things to me that have no excuse. Some people have been cruel, rude, and undeniably in the wrong. Me forgiving them doesn’t change my feelings or my pain. Me forgiving them doesn’t say it’s okay, that it’s fine, that it’s not a big deal. Me granting forgiveness doesn’t determine that what they did was acceptable – it determines that it’s not my burden to bear any longer.
Forgiveness isn’t allowing their actions to continue. “Forgive and forget” is not a healthy life style. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean an open invitation back into my life, back into the way things were. Forgiveness involves boundaries. Forgiveness involves moving forward – in a different way. I once had to tell a friend, “I’m working on forgiving you, but I don’t trust you right now. And I don’t know if I can again.” Because the reality was, if I were to, the hurtful actions would have continued on. And that’s not what we’re called to do.
Jesus commands me to forgive them. “Father, forgive me as I forgive my trespassers…” We’re forgiven as we forgive. That’s heavy. We’re called to forgive, as that’s one of the best ways to love others. But we’re also called to forgive because it gives us a better quality of life. God knows that a life free of bitterness is a life more enjoyable. He also knows that when we are free to forgive, we are more free to experience His forgiveness. I’m forgiving the other person, but – again – it’s more about me and my walk with God and my personal sanity.
They are not the enemy. This is sometimes the hardest for me – because I want to make them the enemy. I want to hate that boy who broke my heart, I want to start a war with that girl who hurt my feelings. I want to invest all my energy in ranting and venting and plotting against them. But they aren’t my enemy. The evil that’s in their lives (and equally in mine!), the broken parts of them that have cut me – those are my enemies. The lies their actions have made me believe, the fear their actions have brought up, the evil their actions have spread – that’s the real enemy here. We have an enemy that wants nothing more than to see us suffer, and one of the best ways he does so is by pitting us against each other. We are not each other’s enemies, just as we are not each other’s saviors. We are fellow humans, equally broken. We hurt each other and we mess up and we do things in need of forgiveness…. but we are not the enemy.
Forgiveness is a process. It’s easy with some people, with some hurts. Others take time, they take real effort. They require a daily choice to decide to put down the bitterness, to put down the pain that it sometimes – strangely – feels comforting to hold on to. A daily choice to decide to instead pick up freedom, pick up trust. I’m learning forgiveness grows trust in a God that can heal the broken parts of me, so maybe – just maybe – He can heal the broken parts of them as well. Forgiveness allows that to happen; it provides the freedom for that to flourish. Forgiveness allows new life to grow – in me as well as them.
Am I saying I’m voting for Trump? Oh goodness, no. But I don’t have to carry the weight of hate, I don’t have to bear that burden any more. I can play a part in speaking truth, in spreading grace, in being part of the change that I want to see happen in our country – that I will gladly take part in. But the anger and hate and fear – there’s enough of that already, I have no need to spread more of it.
Am I saying I’m 100% okay with the wrongs that have been committed against me? Oh goodness, no. There’s still very real pain. There’s still very real healing to be done. But the anger, the bitterness, the resentment is gone (…most days. Some mornings I still pick it up, out of habit. Some days I carry it with me, because I have for so long). I no longer have to worry about seeking revenge on those who have hurt me, because I have a loving Savior who promises justice. I no longer have to live a life of fists clenched around hurt, holding on to something that brings a sense of power over the other person; instead I can live with hands expectant and open, seeing what God might bring and enjoying the freedom.
I am saying Trump is a child of God. I am saying he deserves to be forgiven as I have been forgiven. I am saying that Jesus is a far better judge than I can ever hope to be, and justice is something He and I both long for in this broken world. I am saying I am a better person – more whole, more free, more sane – for choosing forgiveness over resentment. I am saying that I forgive Donald Trump.