So much truth in that! Sometimes we hold on to our bitterness and unforgiveness thinking it is going to affect or change the other person, when in reality the only person it is hurting is US. It limits our walk with the Lord, & honestly, I truly believe it can wreak so much havoc on you mentally and emotionally that it can even affect you physically.
God has blessed me tremendously with some Godly friends who really add a lot of value to my life and make me a better person. But I have a couple of ‘friends’ who have really hurt me, and I held on to some bitterness for a while. Letting GO of that was such a freeing feeling, and it brought so much joy and peace back in to my life. It has been awesome to see my relationship with the Lord thriving again as a result. I didn’t realize how much holding on to that negativity was affecting me and am super glad for that phase to be over. (I couldn’t post about it during the process because I couldn’t find the right words, but now that I am on the other side I feel comfortable sharing how I was delivered from those feelings.) Praying genuinely about it has revealed quite a bit about those situations. I won’t go into any details, but ladies especially, guard yourself and your heart and watch out for “mean girls.” Sad, but true, and unfortunately a lot of that stems back to jealousy. (Here are a few others posts about that: "Why do women tear others down?", "Are you insecure?", "Why do we compare ourselves to others?", "Surround yourself with who you want to be", "Lord, Teach me to LOVE."
Maybe it’s not a friend who has hurt you. Maybe it is a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even worse, a spouse or a family member. I truly believe God desires restoration!! That doesn’t mean the relationship has to be restored to the way it was before, but it means that you agree to truly forgive and move on, and still LOVE that person like Christ would (despite how they choose to respond- you can’t control that, and be mindful of how differently they may respond if they aren’t a believer). “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” –Matthew 5:24
Society tells us to “forgive, but don’t forget.” That is not what God tells us through his example. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:8 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." In Psalm 103:12 it tells us God forgives “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Micah 17:9 says “Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” Y’all, this is why we have to saturate our minds and hearts with the Word. It is so easy to fall prey to what “the world” tells us. It sounds right. It feels right. But it doesn’t line up with the Word. As a believer, are you trying to be like Christ or be like the world? (Check out Galatians 1:20 & Romans 12:2…two of my faves.)
**By the way, although God calls us to truly forgive and forget, we are not God and it’s not always a “once and done” deal for us. Sometimes we have to make the decision to forgive daily. Take captive EVERY though & renew your mind. Recognize that not every thought that comes to your mind is from God, and you have to be prayerfully in tune with God so you can recognize what is from God, what is from the flesh, and what is from the enemy. Satan wants nothing more than to put you in bondage because you are dwelling on the past. Sometimes, when the people that have hurt me pop up in my life, I have to use that as a time to go to the Lord so that I do not get caught up allowing it to steal my thoughts.
The best way to do this is through communicating directly with that person, and that should be done ONLY after you’ve talked to God about it. Our natural instinct (well, mine anyway) is to go to those closest to me and ask for their opinion. Although there is definitely value in seeking Godly counsel, ask yourself “Have I talked to God about it as much as I’ve talked to others about it?” Pray, pray, and pray some more. I know sometimes confrontation is hard when there is a deep hurt. Sometimes it takes TIME to heal some before you’re ready to confront it. But the truth is, only GOD can provide that restoration anyway. None of us are strong enough in our own flesh to forgive others, and if you’re like me, that might mean asking God to help you even have a desire to forgive even when (you feel) the other person doesn’t deserve it. Newsflash: We don’t deserve God’s forgiveness, but thank the Lord he is gracious and merciful anyway!! (And I’m talking to myself here more than anyone else.)
The word “forgiveness” in the Greek means “letting go,” and it’s a word rooted in humility.
Does knowing that not give you such a different mindset? The opposite of humility is PRIDE, so if forgiveness is correlated with humility, unforgiveness is a direct result of PRIDE. God HATES pride. Look up Proverbs 16:18 when you get a chance. That is a verse that always comes to mind when I recognize some thought or behavior of mine as being rooted in pride.
“I don’t deserve that.” As Christians, if our goal is to be more like Christ, we have to recognize his mindset was the complete opposite of that, and for me, God has to do a LOT of work through me to change that attitude. I also study & meditate on scriptures about forgiveness, and that helps transform my mindset and my heart.
On the other end of that spectrum is apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Once again, it is often our PRIDE that keeps us from doing that. We feel justified. The other person wronged us too, so why should WE be the one to apologize?? Well, because God called us to….that’s why. (I know…kinda reminds you of a “Because I’m your mother and I said so…” right?) Here are a few Biblical-based tips (our wise Sunday school teachers) shared for apologizing and asking for forgiveness:
- Apologize sincerely.
- Do not say “if I hurt you.” (Try to understand the extent of the hurt.)
- Say “I’m sorry I cut you with my words.”
- Do not minimize the offense.
- Do not make excuses.
- Do not blame others.
- Even if your part is 10 % and theirs is 90 % be the first to ask.
- REPENT. Do not repeat the offense. (through Christ)
I know in my 28 years, there are a lot of people I have wronged and hurt; a lot of times unintentionally, but inexcusable nonetheless. I have tried to make amends with the times God has put clearly in my memory, but I am sure there are some I am missing. So if you’re reading this and I have hurt you in some way, I would love to talk to you about it so I can genuinely apologize.
Here are some action steps to move forward with forgiving others & with asking for forgiveness:
*Ask God to reveal any unforgiveness in your life. Then ask for help in letting go and truly forgiving that person. (Again, I encourage you to study Scriptures on forgiveness.)
*Ask God for forgiveness for your own sins.
*Ask others (whom you have wronged in any way) for forgiveness. Repent from that.