Take a moment and think about the word, “forgiveness“. What a wonderful word it is! How healing it is!
What emotions does such an activity stir in you? Do you find it fills you with a feeling of sweet security and well-being? Your conscience is clear and you have peace knowing that nothing is held against you. Can there be a word that expresses or encapsulates the love of our Heavenly Father more clearly? Yet forgiveness has two sides to it.
Remove the ending of the word and you are left with, “forgive“. Now suddenly you are on the other side of the situation. Your emotions change as you contemplate whether, or not you are willing to let go of all the hurts you have held onto for years. Intense feelings rise up and restrict your throat and possibly your breathing. Fear, anger, and rage fill your entire being. FORGIVE? How dare anyone suggest such a thing!
Forgiveness is often the last hurdle before we enjoy our healing. We struggle with forgiving those who have hurt us because we think to forgive means to say, “I am over the pain“. Or we think to forgive means, “to let them off the hook; to let them away with it“. You rationalize that your offender doesn’t deserve your forgiveness. He hasn’t come to you and begged forgiveness. Why would God command you to forgive someone so vile?
We want them to suffer as much as we have. Pride or fear often gets in the way of forgiving.
We are asked, rather commanded, to extend the same mercy to our offender that our Heavenly Father has extended to us.
Remove the first part of the word, “forgive” and you are left with “give“. The word, “give” means “free gift.” In giving a free gift, you expect nothing in return. A free gift can’t be earned or paid for. It is an expression of love and mercy. We are never more like our Heavenly Father than when we extend mercy to someone who could never repay us for the mountain of emotional pain he or she has caused. God loved you so very much that He gave His only Son… (John 3:16)
Give the whole situation to God and let Him deal with your offender. He has said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” He’s got your back. He’s on your side. He wants what’s best for you. He knows that as long as you hold on to this bitterness you will struggle with one health issue after another. Maybe not immediately but it will eventually take its toll. You will never reach your full potential spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, intellectually, or productively. Trust that God will give you the grace to forgive if you will commit to doing His will.
Forgiveness is not:
- Forgiveness is not just ignoring the pain.
- Forgiveness is not forgetting the hurtful incident.
- Forgiveness is not declaring the other person was right or what he did was OK.
- Forgiveness is not allowing the offender to control your life.
- Forgiveness is not saying you are over the pain.
- Forgiveness is not saying you forgive while avoiding the offender.
- Forgiveness does not mean the offender should not have to pay the consequences of his actions.
- Forgiveness is more for your benefit than for the benefit of your offender.
- Forgiveness means you are more interested in understanding why something happened than in getting even.
- Forgiveness states that the offender no longer owes you anything.
- Forgiveness means you are more concerned about moving ahead with your life than being controlled or restricted by your past.
- Forgiveness sets you free to move through the healing process.
- Forgiveness opens the door for God’s blessing on your life.
Forgiveness, though very difficult, is essential to emotional healing.
Forgiveness is an essential progression of the healing process.
Grace Gayle and Paul are Chaplains with the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, ministering in community settings. They bring thirty years’ experience walking with wounded individuals through their journeys of healing in pursuit of mental wellness -https://healingourbrokenness.ca