It trips me up everytime. That forgiveness thing.
It’s far easier to just pretend nothing happened and move on. But here’s the thing; unforgiveness pokes its ugly head out when you least expect it. It finds its way out through your words, thoughts and actions. It creeps into your relationships like a virus, infecting and affecting all areas of your life. It can cripple you, squeezing your heart until you just cannot bear it any more.
Forgiveness is hard.
Christ calls us to forgive. How can we then receive God’s forgiveness when we are unable to put aside our own wounded hearts and forgive others?
Many years ago I was deeply hurt by a group of friends. Someone had unfairly attacked a decision my family had made and we were shunned by all our friends. We were uninvited from children’s parties, ignored in social settings and told off to our faces. It was a very painful time where I felt wronged and alone. Throughout this time though, I clearly heard the Lord’s voice, ” Be still and know that I am God.” And so during this painful, unfair season, we chose not to defend ourselves but to ‘be still’ and let God fight our battles for us.
This required a few steps from us:
1. Lay down your hurt.
We handed over the hurt to God. We tried not to pick it back up. Every time a pang of hurt would stir in my heart I would lay it at His feet again. Was this easy? No. I wrestled through my feelings of anger, feelings of being alone and feelings of betrayal on nearly a daily basis. But I held on to the scripture he had placed in my heart. Be still.
2. Pray for them.
I know what you’re thinking. What did she say?
But yes, pray for them. I remember during that awful season praying with my husband and hearing him pray for those that were hurting us. I felt anger rise in my heart and my chest felt tight as he graciously prayed for them. For God to show them truth. For our ability to still show them love. It was hard. But over time, as we prayed for them and for the situation, our hearts started to change towards them. Had they changed? No. But God was doing a work in us. And their actions hurt a little less each day.
You are the people of God; He loved you and chose you for His own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. Colossians 3:12-13
3. Remember your own need for a Savior.
Yup! I pulled out the God card!
Remember your own need for a Savior. Because of our own sin, our own mistakes, our own poor choices, our uninformed choices, Jesus died. He absorbed our sin and punishment on our behalf and so…if He has done all this for us, how can we then not forgive others? How can we receive God’s forgiveness when we are unable to put aside our own wounded hearts and forgive others?
There’s a saying that goes something like: Unforgiveness is like daily sipping on poison in the hopes that someone else will die.
We can replay our hurt over and over on a loop in our minds. We can work out all the reasons that they are wrong and we are wronged. But it won’t accomplish what we are truly looking for. Truly needing. The peace and healing that comes from trusting God with our hurt, forgiving those that hurt us and choosing to move forward.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
God came through
It didn’t happen immediately, in fact it took nearly a year, but God brought to light the truth of our situation. Our integrity remained intact and the Lord honored his promise to us. We trusted Him and He did not let us down. Those who wronged us came and asked for our forgiveness and we were gracious to forgive and show them love.
But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them. Ephesians 5:13
Are you carrying past hurts into your future? God has the ability to heal those broken places in your heart and mind. He can restore peace, love and joy lost. Trust him with your situation. Lay down your hurts at His feet.