“God, what are we doing here?” I ask as I begin to recognize my surroundings. “It is time to forgive,” He says. So, I take a deep breath, and lean in.
“Where do I start?” I ask, warily. He leads me back to a frequented parking spot nearby the house I lived in. 23rd St. I begin my walk, and the pain rises to greet me. I walk past it and into Oregon State’s campus. You know what happened? I was greeted with JOY! Real, untainted, authentic joy. I took a well-worn path towards the library and was welcomed by the old brick buildings and expanse of green grass. Joy resided here too. What would meet me next, I wondered. As I continued my walk–accompanied by joy–I knew there were three buildings I needed to see; three places I needed to forgive. And, in the process of forgiving them, hopefully redeem their place in my soul. (Context: Each of these places had housed professors, classes, or experiences that left me feeling hopeless, spiritually naked, or bitter with anger.) The circle I walked began with Furman. Forgiveness there came easily because the wounds were shallow and I hadn’t clung to the hurt. Then, I found my way to Milam.
These doors are significant for multiple reasons. I stepped through them, and they led me to the torture of my heart. I walked out from them, and they left me with shattered pieces of thoughts and dreams. But, in this moment, walking through the campus of my past, I knew these doors would grant me freedom.
I placed my hand on a part of the wall, and said, “I forgive this building for the trauma it created. I forgive the professor for breathing anger into my lungs. And, I forgive myself for being unprepared for such a place, for such a trial, for such an experience.”
Now, some of you may think this level of forgiveness is unnecessary or even absurd. Why would anyone need to go back or touch the places, let alone verbally claim forgiveness? Yet, if I had the ability to invite you into that afternoon, I would. As I walked to my last building–Wiegand–I was struck by the peace that accompanied me. When I arrived at Wiegand, words were not said; rather, a knowing glance was given. My soul forgave this place too. As I made my way back to my car, down Greek Row, I recognized that I had walked a circle around OSU’s campus. This place had unknowingly been my Jericho…and forgiveness had broken down its walls, its strongholds. What was left is what I want to give to you now: redemption.
Each of us have seasons in life that we want to cling to, run from, shout about, or hide. Is there a damaged part of you that you haven’t extended forgiveness to? It could be a person, place, thought, or even a dream. From one broken human to another, give yourself permission to stare brokenness in the face, and see if you can find a place for redemption instead.