Several months ago, I was talking to a friend about some of the things I went through as a child. During this conversation, I said that I forgave my step-mother for what she did. I believe my exact words were, "I forgive her for what she did.... I mean, I hope she gets hit by a bus, but I do forgive her." This friend, of course, had to point out the lack of consistency in my words. Apparently, you can't wish injury or death on someone but still claim to forgive them.
So, I rephrased. "I wouldn't be hurt or upset if she got hit by a bus, but I do forgive her."
Granted, this still isn't "right" of me. But it is true. I have forgiven her, and others, for things I was put through. But just because I forgive them, doesn't mean their actions were good or right, or that they're excusable. And it definitely doesn't mean that there will ever be a relationship there in the future.
And, I must point out, that just because I forgave her, doesn't mean I have forgiven everything she did. I try. But, there was a lot. There were many different events, and times and hurtful things. I forgave the physical abuse I received. I forgave the emotional abuse I received. I struggle daily with forgiving her for the abuse my siblings endured - especially knowing it directly led to the suicide of two of my brothers. And, I struggle with some very simple things as well - she through away a shirt and a stuffed animal of mine... both which had very sentimental value to me. Oddly, I have had a hard time forgiving her for these little things (both objects were all I had left of two very special people in my life... one a great-uncle, the other a close childhood friend).
But, I keep forgiving. Sometimes, I have to "reforgive". Not sure that's really a word.. or an action... but there are times when I know I have forgiven her, but the next day, I'll suddenly be angry with her again. I had made peace with it, but a television show, or a picture, or something, will stir it up again. And I find myself in prayer and forgiving her yet again. We're told in the Bible that the number of times we should forgive someone is 7 times 70. I think she's past that amount. But, I will continue. This is the same with my father, although, with him there is a bit more anger, and a bit more love, and forgiveness doesn't come as quickly or easily.
Why should we forgive?
Because God said so.
Ok, yeah, not a good enough reason for me either.
So... look at it this way... how many times have you sinned? Just take within the last day. Too hard to count? How about within the last hour? How many of those times has God forgiven you for? How many of those sins did Jesus give his own life for so you could be forgiven?
Don't ya think you owe it to God to forgive that person who stole your lunch money, or tripped you in the hall, or talked behind your back? God keeps forgiving you... and me... I think it's the least we can do to follow Him by forgiving those who wrong us.
And hey, it really does make you feel freer... happier... less weighted down... when you forgive. So it's a win-win-win.