Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
It’s come to my attention recently that not a lot of people really understand true, Godly forgiveness, so I thought I’d write about my thoughts on the topic.
Unforgiveness prevents you from spending your life happy. Unforgiveness is not only detrimental to your emotional/mental health but your physical health too. Things like high blood pressure, diabetes, ulcers, kidney & heart problems can stem from carrying around that negativity. Forgiveness, however, gives you no health problems & gives you peace & joy. It’s no wonder God wants us to forgive! (see Ephesians 4:32)
Unfortunately, I think people often believe forgiving others means you should pretend what hurt you didn’t even happen. Forgive & forget, as the old saying goes. While a lot of times, you should forgive & forget, there are other times that simply isn’t wise! Forget the small infractions, like that person in line behind you bumping your heel with the grocery cart. But if someone repeatedly hurts you, don’t forget that! If you do, basically you’re setting yourself up to be hurt again. For example, if someone is verbally abusive, & you forgive & forget every time, you’re going to be hurt many times. Instead, you need to be aware of what this person is capable of, & protect yourself from her verbal attacks however you feel is right.
Forgiveness also has nothing to do with the person who abused or hurt you- it is about you & you alone. You deserve better than being angry & bitter! Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It doesn’t discredit what was done to you, or a sign of weakness. It means you want to obey God, & be good to yourself at the same time.
Some people think that cutting people out of your life is a sign you hate them, still harbor anger or aren’t a good Christian. This is simply NOT the case! I have ended quite a few relationships in my life, & not once was that done in anger. I did it after careful consideration & prayer, never during a fit of anger. To this day, I harbor no ill-will or unforgiveness towards those people I have eliminated from my life, either. I simply don’t want to tolerate their mistreatment of me- I know I deserve better.
I know there are times it’s hard to forgive. When someone hurts you deeply or repeatedly, forgiveness seems impossible. The good news is that it isn’t. It may take some time for you to forgive someone, but that is fine! God understands that, & He can help you to forgive, too. All you’ll need is a desire to forgive.
-Your first step in forgiving others is a decision that you want to forgive. It sounds simple, but sometimes this is a hard step when you’re very angry or hurt. If you lack that desire, then by all means, ask God to help you!
-Also, try to see things from the offender’s perspective. That person could be in a bad mood because of going through something stressful, & unfairly took out her frustrations on you.
-And, some people are naturally selfish, insensitive, oblivious to the feelings of others. There are still other people simply never learned to treat others with respect & consideration.
-Ask God to help you release your anger. Sometimes it helps to imagine you are holding a bag containing your anger, then you place it at the foot of Jesus. I’ve done that a few times, & it can be helpful. Get your feelings out. Write a letter to the person that you never show her. Get it all out- why what she did hurt you. You can keep the letter if it helps you somehow, but I’ve found burning it to be oddly therapeutic.
-Lastly, this is the hardest part- pray for that person. (see Matthew 5:44). I have prayed through clenched teeth a few times-literally! But, I’ve learned that once you pray for that person, it releases some anger. The more you pray for her, the more anger is released.
Remember, forgiveness is good for truly good for you, & it doesn’t discount any pain you have experienced! Also, it can take time sometimes, & there is nothing wrong with that. Just because you can’t forgive someone immediately doesn’t make you a bad person! And, remember too that although there is a time to forgive & forget, there is also a time to forgive but remember! ❤