How are we all doing?
The other day, I received a message in my heart about forgiveness and I wanted to share it with you all. Let me set the scene: I take my phone into the shower with me, usually to listen to music, and on this occasion, I found myself sitting on the bathtub afterwards scrolling through Instagram (Lord help me).
So, I’m scrolling scrolling, and I stumble across an ‘ex-friend’ of mine that had liked a Christian post and I rolled my eyes thinking, ‘why are YOU liking a Christian post when you weren’t very CHRISTIAN to me?’ (Guys, I’m not perfect and such thoughts do creep up on me – but it’s what you do with them that matters). Nowadays I’m so much more conscious about my thoughts - which ones I allow to dwell and which ones I actively cancel out because, well, Philippians 4:8-9 (I even have this scripture sticky-noted to my computer screen at work).
So anyway, just as I was cancelling out the thought, the Lord spoke to me in that moment and said “Is this how I feel when you do something ‘Christian’-like?” Eeeeshhhh. “I’ve changed you, so what makes you think I couldn’t have changed her?”
I realised then, that there was so much unforgiveness, resentment and pain in my heart, towards a number of different situations, especially ones that have happened in the last 3-4 years. It really didn’t matter how much I had sworn to myself (and others) that I’d ‘let it go’ or that it ‘didn’t affect me’ anymore, because I was still triggered. We can try and deceive ourselves, but if certain people or certain things still trigger us, we realise on self-reflection, that we haven’t truly forgiven.
True forgiveness is FULLY pardoning or releasing someone from his or her debt to you – The debt owed usually stems form the emotional pain that their actions caused you.
I personally think that forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do. I mean sometimes things happen in our lives that cut us so deeply that we physically feel the pain in our bodies. I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but when I am properly wounded, my chest hurts. Like I PHYSICALLY feel pain in my chest. And when you feel that pain some of the first things you want to do is seek revenge or seek reparations – and a lot of the time, we won’t get either. So then we are stuck with the feeling that we have not been properly appeased or satisfied which then leads to unforgiveness.
But… UNFORGIVENESS is a SIN.
I have had to remind myself of this many, many times. I have to remind myself that even if I don’t do it for the other person, that I must do it for myself. I don’t want to miss forever with my King of kings and my Saviour because I couldn’t genuinely get over the pain and forgive someone for their past wrongs. I don’t want to continue carrying the burden and yoke of unforgiveness around my neck because it truly weighs you down and can actually make you ill (look it up – it causes all kinds of diseases and sicknesses).
Believe me, I know forgiveness is hard, and I’ve personally been so hurt in the past, but we HAVE TO FORGIVE. No matter how much we have been aggrieved, I guarantee God has had it worse and yet, He finds space to forgives us, and so we need to learn how to forgive others too, if we want to honour the title of being called His children.
Just as we are not worthy of forgiveness by ourselves, many times, the person who has hurt us may not be worthy either. However, we can take notes from our Father – how does He react? He forgives. He forgives not because we are worthy but because He is Holy. Unforgiveness is darkness (sin) and the Bible says that there is no darkness in Him.
Could you imagine if God held grudges towards us whenever we did something wrong, disobeyed Him or hurt Him? God forbid! But instead, He shows us grace, mercy and love. We must therefore do the same for others, not because they are worthy, but because we have a wonderful example.
Forgiveness does not condone or make light of the action, but the burden is released from us and placed upon Jesus. God does not forget what is done with malicious or evil intent and He will bring punishment to those who are deserving of it – just don’t let it be you because you sought, with malicious intent, to bring the punishment upon them yourself.
God used Jesus' death on the cross to forgive us (in fact, that was the purpose of Him coming), and we can use Him too. Forgiveness, in our own strength is near enough impossible, but with God ALL things are possible. Even the most unforgivable thing can be forgiven by the power of Jesus Christ.
1. BECAUSE GOD FORGAVE US
God forgave you and in turn you have to do the same. When we are praying to God but holding a grudge against someone else, how can we expect God to give us what we are asking for? Before you come to the throne of God, you have to have a clean and clear heart, unforgiveness prevents that: “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25-26
When you don’t forgive someone, you’re honestly just doing yourself a disservice. Imagine all the blessings/unanswered prayers you’re missing out on.
2. BECAUSE IT REMOVES THE ‘POWER’ FROM THE OTHER PERSON
How does that saying go again? ‘Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’ - That person is probably not even thinking about you! You’re sitting here still stewing over things of the past and the other person is out there living their life and in turn, you’re blocking your own blessing. Unforgiveness is BONDAGE! - ‘So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery.’ Galatians 5:1
Ok, I hear you, BUT HOW?
1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE PAIN
We can’t pretend, like I did, that we are over it and unaffected because it will resurface like a bad smell or be ‘waiting for you at the door’ at every opportunity. We have to acknowledge our pain (and if you can, the root of it) and ask God to heal you. This has been my number 1 prayer point during my healing process, and you would not BELIEVE how much this has helped. I was harbouring so much pain and just releasing it onto God has been…WOW.
2. BE EMPATHETIC
My mum always taught me that by making an excuse (‘they’re having a bad day’ or ‘something happened in their life which made them do this’ etc), humanises them and in turn helps you forgive them. We all go through things that change us and the way we handle situations, and if you have wronged someone, wouldn’t you want forgiveness too? Having empathy is a great way to forgive. No one is perfect – including you. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Sometimes the person didn’t even mean to hurt you, and probably doesn’t even know they did!
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. – Matthew 18:21-22
I can’t remember where I heard this but it just SMASHED my flesh:
Jesus Died for your sins AND the sins committed against you.
– Isn’t that just so powerful?!
3. PRAY FOR THEM
Skr Skr – say what now? But YES!! Pray for them! Pray for God to bless them and pray for their own healing too. Eventually your anger or resentment against them will start to dissolve and you’ll actually see yourself releasing. You literally can’t pray for someone for a week and still ‘hate’ them afterwards.
I know this has been a LOOOOONG post (oopsy), but I’ll just leave this with you:
Your heart, your happiness and your life are your responsibility and yours alone. If you wait for someone who has hurt you to come and apologise to you before you surrender the pain and healing onto God, you could be waiting a veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery long time (to be honest, you could wait your entire life), and you’ll stay miserable for the same amount of time. Allow God to start and perfect your healing process right now.
Also, forgiveness could take a while, especially if the pain is really deep. But just keep leaning of God no matter how hard it is and how long it takes, and it will get better. For transparency and honesty, I personally have been actively working on this for about 8 months, and although I’m not ALL the way there yet, I am NO where near where I started (just a glimpse of how much pain, resentment and unforgiveness I was holding onto.)
Keep working on it.
Love, Peace and JOY!
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13