How do you respond if someone asks you for forgiveness? Sometimes I blow it off, wave it away and make it casual: "Don't worry about it... It's no big deal... No problem... We're fine..." Even if the thing that needs forgiving really did hurt or offend, I feel this need to put the other person at ease by minimizing the issue. In fact, sometimes I feel like forgiveness should be more of a personal thing: I have to come to the point in my own heart that I forgive and release a thing to the Lord, not necessarily for the other person's sake, but my own.
But then I think about the times when I work up the humility and courage to ask someone for forgiveness - I ask because it plagues me so much that I need that resolution and release. I truly feel bad about it and want to make it right. And it is not satisfying or grace-filled when I do that and the response is casual. It doesn't make me feel better for someone to tell me it was "nothing" when it's been a very heavy "something" on my heart that is making me lose sleep or get sick. When I ask for forgiveness, it's because I need to know that I am forgiven.
So I was thinking of these things yesterday when someone very thoughtfully and humbly asked me for forgiveness. I tried to put myself in her position, and recognized that forgiving her would actually be more of a blessing to her than to me. And that was something I could do: I could bless her with a heartfelt, gracious statement of forgiveness that would put her soul at ease and truly restore and strengthen our relationship.
After all, isn't it beautiful and mind-blowing to know that's what Jesus did for us? He didn't just dismiss our confession of sin or minimize our realization of inadequacy and helplessness... he actually FORGIVES us when we ask him to! I am so thankful for that grace and mercy, for that strong and powerful and true statement of his forgiveness and restoration.