Think back to a time when someone hurt you. Remember how that person’s words or actions made you feel? Remember that feeling in your stomach? Remember the anger? Maybe you are still affected by it today.
The Bible says that we are to forgive, no matter how hard it may be.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).
God is saying that it is in our own best interest to forgive, and He has given us the perfect example of forgiveness. He knew that we needed to be forgiven for our sins so He sent Jesus to save us from the consequences of our sin. If God was strong enough to allow his son to die on a cross to prove to us how much He loves us, shouldn’t we trust Him when He says, “forgive?”
Colossians 3:13 says: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
For me, forgiveness took a long time. I survived a childhood of physical and emotional abuse from the two people who were supposed to love me the most. My coping mechanism was to avoid (the memories) and deny (that anything was wrong). I didn’t tell anyone for many years because I didn’t want anyone to judge me. I had feelings of anger, shame, and guilt from my past. I struggled with the idea of forgiveness for a long time. I didn’t want to forgive my parents because I believed that they didn’t deserve it.
What I learned was that forgiving others spares us from the consequences of living out of an unforgiving heart. It’s important to keep in mind that forgiving someone doesn’t mean that everything is hunky-dory. Unfortunately, the old phrase of “forgive and forget” isn’t really beneficial in real life. You should remember what someone has done to you, even if it means you can no longer be a part of their life.
Remember, forgiveness does not justify or pardon the deed or the person. Likewise, it does not provide God’s forgiveness for their actions, because only God can do that. And while nothing can undo the past, we can do something about the condition of our own present and future. Forgiving others makes a way for our own healing to begin. That healing process will lead you to be able to love.
Listen to your heart. Is there someone who you need to forgive in order to move forward and truly love as God has commanded us? If so, I would encourage you to do the following:
- Pray about it and how the act of forgiveness can help you grow spiritually.
- Understand that negative feelings will occur when we are hurt and that’s normal.
- Talk to someone about what you are experiencing.
- Don’t rush. Forgiveness is a process.
- Honor the fact that you are becoming a different person by forgiving.