Updated: Jun 4
"To stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. To cancel (a debt)."
"The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven."
Psychologists define forgiveness in its true definition as “a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”
Have you ever had to ask someone for forgiveness? Have you ever been the one saying the dreaded three words, “I am sorry”?
Have you ever had to sit down and think about the people who have hurt you the most? Not in a hateful and bitter way, but have you ever taken time to sit, recognize and acknowledge that maybe you need to forgive them? Not because they need your forgiveness or need to realize the weight of what they have done, but for the sake of moving forward in grace and peace. Now I hope and wish anyone that ever hurts someone would recognize the weight of their wrongdoing, I hope I would. But somehow, someway, in the midst of fallouts, defensiveness, pride, arrogance, and deception, WE get in the way of forgiveness. Our hardened hearts and tiny perspectives remove us from the path of forgiveness and peace.
Don’t hear me say that your feelings of anger, frustration and heartache aren’t justified or real. What I am saying is that our ability to forgive is solely dependent on our willingness to surrender. These feelings aren’t meant to consume our hearts, they’re meant to inform our hearts of what steps to take next.
I’ve been deeply hurt by people I’d quite actually die for. But I’ve also caused deep hurt in the lives of the people I love most too. And if I haven’t said I’m sorry to someone I owe that to that is reading this, consider this my deepest apology for my ignorance. So where do I stand? How can I experience such great hurt and still choose to forgive?
Well for the past several years (yes, YEARS), I’ve really dug deep into how I can be quicker to forgive and not allow bitterness to plant roots in my heart. Here’s what I’ve learned:
You can’t avoid hurting people. It’s inevitable. We are human beings, full of shortcomings of all shapes and sizes. Grace is a whole lot sweeter when we acknowledge our brokenness and offer the same grace we have been given.
It’s okay to be in the wrong. It’s not okay to let pride get in the way of an apology. Humility is far more powerful than your ego.
The person that hurt you doesn’t have to acknowledge the weight of their wrongdoing for you to be able to forgive them and move forward peacefully. Don’t give someone the power to dictate your peace. That’s up to you.
God is just. Trust me on this one. Whether you see reconciliation or continued resentment, God is just and His way will come to pass. Where there is pain, there is strength. He will lead you where peace is found.
Don’t resist vulnerability. Be honest with yourself and with trustworthy people. Be honest with where there is hurt and take steps of grace and discernment to seek forgiveness. Whether you need to forgive someone or yourself. Let grace be the leading step.
As someone who deeply loves God and is fully devoted to live a life reflecting Jesus’ love, I will be the first to say this is an ugly aspect of faith for me. To forgive someone is probably one of the hardest things for me to do. The most difficult aspect of forgiveness is probably when I’m the one asking for forgiveness. That one gets me.
But what’s funny is the hold bitterness has on my heart when I choose to sit in my resentment, anger, or hurt rather than forgive. Well, actually it’s not that funny, it’s one of the worst feelings. When I decided to dig deep into what God says about forgiveness, what society says about it, and what my perspective of forgiveness was, I noticed how I had never really acknowledged the power of forgiveness and how it truly is a fundamental part of healing, growing our hearts more tender to the grace of God.
My confession to you is that my first human reaction and tendency when someone hurts me is to get angry, throw a pity party, and respond out of emotion. Whether I am the one forgiving or the one who needs forgiveness, my instinct is not to reconcile. Naturally, I want to speak my mind, be right, and not have to acknowledge the potential wrong that I’ve done. That’s way better than looking like a fool right? Not quite.
What if I told you that it’s actually quite honorable to own your wrongdoings– to confess that we need grace and an enlightened perspective. And on the other hand, it is quite courageous to choose forgiveness when everything else inside of you rages in hurt or anger.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Matthew 18:21-22 says, "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' "
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Forgiveness is mentioned 490 times in the Bible.
If forgiveness is mentioned 490 times in the Bible, God must really want us to grasp its importance and power.
I love this quote by Lysa Terkerust in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, she says, “I always thought forgiveness was an unfair gift we have to give to the person who hurt us, and what I discovered is that forgiveness is more about God giving the gift of healing to our hearts.”
Isn’t that beautiful?
By the grace of God we have the gift of forgiveness. Jesus is our perfect example of this. He was betrayed by His best friend, Peter. But Jesus chose to forgive, and still gave Peter the honor of making disciples and teaching people about His love.
My friend, we don’t forgive because it’s just what we should do, we forgive because it is the path of peace freely given to us so that we can experience life nearer to our Heavenly Father, and we ask for forgiveness because we aren’t made to live burdened by our mistakes. We have freedom in the One who calls us by name. We have freedom in Jesus, who looked at the very people who hung Him to the cross and said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.
Let’s live lives marked by grace because of Christ’s ability to forgive, redeem, and restore us into something healed and beautiful.
There is power in forgiveness and freedom in the name of Jesus!
Life is short my friend, who do you need to forgive today? Who do you need to apologize to?
Whichever you need to do, I’m rooting for you. Ask the Lord for what words to say and surrender all expectations and fears, and go for it.
Truth is, we always put forgiveness on the back burner. "I'll forgive them tomorrow or the next time I see them or the next time they hurt me." And then tomorrow comes, you see them, and they hurt you again and bitterness takes a stronger foothold in your heart. Don't wait for the perfect moment to forgive. Choose too forgive now. If it's coming to your mind now, it needs forgiveness.
I believe in you. You’re courageous and able.
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