If forgiveness was easy, we’d all be doing it. The truth is, forgiveness can be very hard for many.
The act of forgiving used to be hard for me too, but once I had a deeper understanding of why I should forgive, it became easier. I can now extend the same grace & mercy to others that God extends to me with the understanding that no-one is perfect.
I can tell you, from experience that relational restoration and inward healing is possible through forgiveness.
Here’s my personal story with learning to forgive
In 2007, I found a church I started attending because I knew my life was not in a good place and I wanted to hear from God. (I had given my life to Christ at 13 years old but I never lived for Him until I re-committed my life as an adult.)
At this time, my marriage was on the brink of divorce after 7 years. (7 year itch perhaps) No, life just got the best of us. We were both unfaithful and in my mind, we had committed the unforgivable sin. There was no chance for reconciliation.
How could the one person in this world I thought would never hurt me, in fact hurt me. Funny thing is, I did the same thing to him. Isn’t it funny, how we can justify our own sin?
I originally went to the church to seek God to rebuild my life, apart from my husband. Little did I know, God would lead me back to my husband. (Good one God, but I’m glad you did!) 🙂
So, my husband and I started going to marriage counseling with our new Pastor. He taught us many biblical truths that we did not know. Such as, marriage was created by God and when we choose to do marriage His way, we will be blessed. Great, we could have a fair chance at this marriage! But how do we get past the hurt?
We’ve all heard the phrase “I can forgive but I can’t forget” Well, of course, you don’t forget. When we choose forgiveness, our minds are not mysteriously wiped clean of past hurt.
But if you make a conscious decision to move forward in the relationship where the act of forgiveness was warranted; then you have to “forgive and forget”.
I won’t lie, this was hard to do. I was insecure for some time after this all happened. But I wanted to move past it through forgiveness and I wanted the marriage that God designed.
So, now I was accountable to God and His Word. His Word tells me that love keeps no records of wrongs.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
What forgiveness is not
Forgiveness is not rehashing “the past”. It’s not allowing yourself to bring up “the past” the next time you’re upset at that person.
Our Pastor said it to us like this. When your trash is full in your kitchen, you tie it up, take it outside to the garbage can and you never see it again. Rehashing the past would be like walking outside to the garbage can, taking the trash back inside your house, dumping it on your kitchen floor and sifting through it.
When we choose to truly forgive, we leave the trash where it belongs.
In the 13 years that my husband and I recommitted ourselves to one another through forgiveness, neither one of us have regurgitated how we hurt one another in the past.
Consequences to unforgiveness
Yes, there are consequences to our unforgiveness. When we choose not to forgive, we ultimately choose to hold onto our pain and anger.
When we think about the person who caused the pain, feelings of bitterness, resentment and even hatred are rooted in the anger we are holding onto.
Harboring feelings as such is putting yourself in bondage of these negative emotions. So really, it’s a double whammy.
A sound heart is life to the body, but bitterness will rot your bones. Proverbs 14:30
Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. Proverbs 29:11
Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Why do people we love and trust, hurt us?
In short, because we’re human beings. Most of the time, we don’t hurt someone we love with malicious intent.
In my experience, our actions inadvertently hurt others because we’re being selfish. Not because we want to hurt someone we love.
We all fall short of the glory of God.
“People hurt each other. It happens to everyone. Intentionally, unintentionally, regretfully or not. It’s a part of what we do as people. The beauty is that we have the ability to heal and forgive.” ―Adi Alsaid
Why should we forgive?
Because Jesus forgives us. And because forgiving sets us free from harboring negative emotions.
Psalm 103:12 says “as far as the east is to the west, He remembers our sin no more”
This is the example He sets for us to forgive. And I love what gotquestions.org says about this verse:
The phrase as far as the east is from the west is meant to communicate in infinite space. East is in one direction, and west is in the other. This is different from north and south—you can travel north only so far (to the geographic north pole) before being forced to travel south; thus, north and south meet at the poles. But east and west never meet; no matter how far you travel east, you will never reach a point at which your next step must be westward. Therefore, God in His wisdom did not say, “As far as north from south”; rather, He said, “As far as east from west.”
Jesus forgives us and He has instructed us to forgive others.
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
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
What if you’re dealing with a repeat offender?
Still, choose forgiveness.
Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf, eventually you can’t trust that person. In this case, it’s important to set boundaries for yourself and your relationship with that person may change if they don’t repent (true repentance is to turn away from sin and repeat it no more).
But once again, look at what we see in the Parable of the unforgiving servant:
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
Thanks for reading, I truly appreciate your time spent here. Would you help me by sharing this message of Forgiveness with your friends and family below?
What are your thoughts on forgiveness?
Please take a moment to leave a comment below; I love hearing from you!