Forgiveness: Taking the First Step

That 1000 mile journey.

When I don’t feel like putting my best foot forward, and when I’m not even sure what to do next, I remember. I had slipped into a private room on campus to spend some time alone with God. After minutes of crying out to God and telling Him that I just couldn’t possibly forgive the person who had hurt me, I lifted my eyes and saw the poster in front of me.

“The journey of a thousand miles,” it said, “starts with a single step.” (Lao Tzu).

That was when I realized I had been focusing on the journey instead of the next step.

Forgiveness takes energy

Forgiving someone takes consistent energy.  

The devil thrives on throwing incidents back in our faces, reminding us of wrongs in the past and re-inflicting pain from those memories. Rather than focusing on the next step, I tend to want to become stagnant wallowing in the painful memories.

There’s the story of Corrie ten Boom, whose family helped hide Jewish people during the Nazi regime. Her father died in a concentration camp, as did her sister Bessie. Corrie and Bessie ended up in Ravensbrück concentration camp where they had to strip for inspections by male guards. Years later, Corrie shared her testimony in a church. Afterward, one of those guards came up to her to ask her forgiveness. He reached out his hand to shake hers.

She had a choice, and she didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. All she knew was that she did not want to forgive this man who had treated her so brutally.

Could she forgive? Would she?

You know what Corrie did?  She didn’t focus on the 1000 mile journey. She focused on the next step. She didn’t try to figure out if she was capable of this (because she wasn’t capable alone). She focused on the next step.

Her next step involved a move. She reached out her hand to shake his extended hand.

As she took that next step, she felt forgiveness flow through her. Impossible of herself. Yet, because she took that next step, God came.

Focus on the next step instead of the journey

When I am grappling with how to respond to someone who irks or frustrates me, when I struggle with forgiving, I remember that the journey doesn’t have to be completed today. Yet to complete the journey, I need to take that first step. Sometimes the first step is reaching out my hand; sometimes it’s saying something positive about the person who has brought pain; other times it’s doing something for that person.

If you’re struggling with this, you probably already know what your next step should be. If you’re like me, then you’ve experienced this: it’s easier to figure out the next step than it is to actually take that step!

I’m not so sure that it matters to God which step comes first; what matters is that I extend myself and take that first step. After you take the first step, then take the second step. You’ll get there, one step at a time.

Don’t focus on the journey. Focus on doing the next thing – taking the next step.

miles man walking

Where does your 1000-mile journey need to take you?

Go ahead – take that first step.


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