My 10-year-old has been going through some rough times lately. Though she’s OK during the day, at bedtime her anxieties grow, and it’s hard for her to get to sleep. We talk, we pray, we practice relaxation exercises, we snuggle. It’s a long process, night after night.
But this morning Maggie came into the kitchen with a smile on her face. “Mom, I feel so good! I was lying in bed last night trying to sleep, and then I said the name of each person I don’t like and asked God to help me forgive them just for today. And my bad feelings were wiped away, like words from a whiteboard!”
I smiled widely—and gaped inwardly. Because although I’ve sometimes struggled with forgiving others, it’s never occurred to me to approach the matter with a manna-like attitude, one day at a time. I tend to assume I have to forgive offenses in all their depth, all at once. But sometimes my heart can’t see all the ways forgiveness is needed. Sometimes the next layer of hurt has yet to come to the surface.
On any given day, I can only forgive what I know needs to be forgiven that day. Which means that Maggie’s approach is worth a try, especially when the hurt goes deep and I can’t predict how I’ll feel tomorrow. Of course we want our forgiveness to “stick” and last forever. But sometimes the road to forever is taken one day at a time.