I was once told that there are some things you do for the sake of a relationship. If you can’t do something for the sake of your spouse, your friend, or your family member, you do it for the sake of your relationship with them, and to preserve the bond you have. It is not easy, nor is it always painless, but it is necessary. 

We all mess up. Mistakes are made, others are offended, and yet that is the chance we take when we decide to be in relationship with one another. Relationships are such beautiful things, and they are important to our wellbeing. We need them to thrive, and to be happy and healthy. However, there is no such thing as having a relationship without the risk of being hurt, and we cannot love without forgiveness. 

Through every kind of relationship, we are called to love one another. There is vulnerability in love, and sometimes that vulnerability gets betrayed, whether or not it’s intentional. And when we are hurt, we are told to forgive, just as God forgave us.

Like love, forgiveness is a choice. Love demands that we forgive, and resentment is a roadblock to a healthy relationship. It is guaranteed to corrode the bond between two people, and create something toxic and painful. The longer it festers, the more it hurts, and the sooner we get to the point of forgiveness and turning away from our past pain, healing can set in. 

Christ knew this when he was nailed to the cross. When our sin put him on the cross, he harbored the pain and took the incredible effort to forgive us in the midst of it because it was for the sake of our relationship with God. It was to give us a connection to the friend we needed the most, the one who would never hurt us. God didn’t need us, but we needed him, so Christ paid the price, and we were forgiven for every offense. 

Because forgiveness deals with the past, we are not tied down to anything in the present or future. It doesn’t mean we continue in exactly the same way we did before—we are not obligated to absorb someone’s hurtful behavior. It is wise to change the way we relate to people who continue to hurt us, or hurt us badly. Perhaps being more mindful of the environment in which you interact with them, or limiting time with someone who tends to hurt you more. Sometimes taking a step back will allow you the space and peace to love them better than you could otherwise.

We miss out when we don’t forgive. Bitterness and resentment can take all the luster out of life, and leave you disenchanted and miserable. Letting go of the pain and intentionally holding onto love will make our relationships flourish, and grow us closer to God as we begin to understand what he did for us. Forgiveness is essential to our relationships based in love.