Saturday, January 22, 2011
You Hurt Me and I Have to Forgive You?
Forgiving someone who’s hurt you can be difficult. In an ideal world, the person who has wronged you would come forward and say he was sorry. He’d acknowledge his wrong-doing and ask for forgiveness. In an ideal world a lot of things would be different. In your situation, the other person may or may not show signs of repentance, remorse or being sorry. Forgive anyway.
Yes. It’s time to set your heart free.
It’s not easy, but it is possible—when we know what forgiveness is and is not. I’ve been posting recently on this topic, so if you missed it, check out the other blog posts from this week. Here are some final thoughts. It’s helpful to know that:
Forgiveness releases you. When you do not forgive you are the one that hurts, not the other person. You may feel physically sick, or have other aches and pains from holding onto hurt, anger and resentment. Don’t let an unforgiving heart eat you up on the inside and destroy you.
Whether it was ten years ago or ten days ago, when you forgive you are unbound and free to move into the next season of your life. Forgiveness is the balm that heals the heart.
When the pain has been dealt with you can leave the past in the past. You don’t have to drive on in life constantly looking in the rear view mirror. Because you are now moving forward, you look through the front windshield toward the future.
Will you choose your way and hold on to the hurt, or choose God’s way and forgive?
Freedom, baby. You are the one the can be free.
Forgiveness is not a one time thing. When Peter, one of Christ’s followers back in the day, came to Jesus and asked how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter thought he was being generous when he offered to forgive up to seven times. Jesus’ reply must have startled Peter when Jesus said seventy times seven. We forgive again and again, but we are also wise as to how we let the other person treat us.
Forgiveness is an act of your will; it is a choice. Choosing to forgive someone is a heart decision. You may still feel hurt or angry but you don’t have to carry it around in your purse or back pocket.
Here’s the key. It may be helpful for you to process the hurt before you are ready to forgive. Check out Chapters 3 and 4 in “When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton is Empty” for suggestions on how to deal with your emotions and how to grieve losses. You may want to write in your journal, talk with a trusted friend or Christian counselor about your issues, too.
Another helpful way to prepare your heart to forgive someone is to pretend they are sitting in a chair next to yours. You say whatever you want to say, and can speak freely because no one else is listening. The power of release comes as you let loose and vent with words, tears, or both. Even though they are not there to hear it, speaking aloud releases the pain in you. Just as you take the garbage out of your house, you can get the emotional garbage out of your self.
Forgiveness can eventually lead to acceptance. It takes time to integrate new ways of thinking into your heart and life. But in time, you will be able to come to a place of acceptance that this relationship is over and assimilate this new idea. Acceptance does not always mean you like it or agree with it, it simply frees you to live in reality and get on with your own life.
Forgiveness does not always lead to reconciliation. It can, but it may not always be wise or safe. Forgiveness does not mean we have to have a relationship with the other person or allow them to treat us badly. In addition, the other person may no longer be alive, or may not be able to receive what you have to say. Use discernment to guard your heart and stay away from a person who’s harmed you.
Forgiveness leads to freedom and peace. A person who has been forgiven much and who chooses to forgive others has a freed heart. No longer tethered to the pain of wrong, they can run in righteousness, made right with God. Perhaps you’ve seen it. They are more at peace and have a lighter heart because they’re no longer carrying around the weight of the past. Their shoulders relax, and a smile replaces and angry scowl. By God’s amazing grace and mercy they are never the same.
What is binding you-—bitterness, anger, resentment, or offense? Perhaps it’s time to release your vice grip hold and forgive. Give God your thirst, your ache, and your needs. As you choose to forgive and release, you will find freedom and peace.
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”
Jackie M. Johnson is an author and freelance writer in Colorado. Her hope-filled and encouraging books include "Power Prayers for Women," "When Love Ends and the Ice Cream Carton Is Empty" and "Powerful Prayers for Challenging Times." Jackie also writes the Living Single blog on Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk website.