It is part of the human experience to get hurt. Whether minimally or major heartbreak, offenses will arise. All throughout the scripture we see prayers for or sometimes against enemies or those who have hurt us. It is a part of growing up, an important part of the Christian walk more so that Jesus spoke about forgiveness specifically Matthew 6 as he taught us the Lord’s Prayer, His message on prayer as important as it was, had a closing remark on forgiveness and prayer in verse 14: “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.”
When I read warnings like this in scripture I wince and say to myself Ouch! I ask, “Is it that serious?” And every time I try to rationalize and debate with the Holy Spirit, I get the same response” “It IS that serious!” So, forgiveness is a critical and ongoing act we must do as children of God.
For this discussion, I will be referring to major hurts or sins against us and not the small day to day irritations and offenses that come and go. Whilst I do not minimize these types of hurts as they can build up to become a big offense, I want to talk about this in bite sizes as God leads me. Now when I say major hurt I mean something that may have traumatized us and we find it hard to let go such as physical or sexual abuse, infidelity from a spouse, lies from friends or siblings, being defrauded or cheated by business partners ..… I think you now get the picture.
I experienced one of those situations and whilst I said I had forgiven the offender, I realized with shock lately what I had really done was to forgive them only if they do not repeat this act or only if they are good to me continuously. And with that mindset, I set on this journey of self-pity and mega manipulation. In my very ‘Christian mind’, I thought I was really working through forgiveness. As you may guess, the person is family and close to me; I see them often and cannot cut them out of my life and if I did this, I would blatantly be working against Gods commandments and his personal instructions to me over the situation to forgive, be obedient to him and to love. Seeking God and wanting to please Him as I do, wanting to be my best self, I realize I was stuck in every sense of it. I literally had to forgive!!!
Consequently, with this backdrop and my warped idea of forgiveness, I was constantly in my mind judging, doubting this person, reminding them sometimes of their ‘dark sin’ against me. They owed me – after all I have forgiven them, released them, I was still in their lives, supporting them and ‘walking in love’. Sounds very familiar, huh? If we are authentic with ourselves, most of us do this. We hope they will love us more, respect us more, or be forever indebted for what they have done to us!
The result was that I made the person walk on egg shells around me, never feeling good enough doing anything for and with me; I robbed them of their freedom which Christ gives. This warped sense of forgiveness was disrupted when the same sin was perpetrated against me and my worst nightmare happened. I went downhill and this time my own approach to really heal was not enough. Everything in my life was disrupted. I was in grief; I lost my joy, my peace, my being. God Himself had to teach me to forgive.
It was not a great epiphany. It was simple doses of looking in the word of God, sometimes deliberately, sometimes occasionally. And with this, I made a 360 degree turnaround on my forgiveness walk and and my ultimate healing.
My eternal lessons:
- You are not perfect either. You hurt people maybe not in a big way, but you also hurt God! In John 8:7, when they kept on questioning him (about the woman caught in the sin of adultery), he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”
- The more I manipulate the situation to get more apologies and pity, the more I suffer especially when the offender does NOT respond in the way I had imagined. They do not suffer, you do.
- You have NO control over the offender’s remorse or not! Your expectations will never be met. Hurt people hurt people and sometimes till they get their own deliverance of their weakness, sin, habit or addiction, will continue to hurt others.
- Forgiveness is not an event, it’s a journey. You make the decision to forgive once but every time the physical reaction comes – memories, nostalgia, the feeling of bile rises in you or shame washes over you at the pain you felt, you continue to walk in the decision you made to forgive and you do this repeatedly. Hence the famous response when asked about how many times one should forgive those who sin against us. This is my revelation of Matthew 18:22. It is the process of releasing. Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
- Releasing brings back the beauty and joy of the Lord into your life. As one of my (s)heroes says, “Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself, not your offender.”
Dear friends, you will get hurt. Do not wish or pray against it, it will happen. But guess what? Pain often breaks us and opens us for purpose. This is my personal discovery. You can manage your response every time. You deserve to be happy, deserve to be the best version of yourself. This is the only time you are a vessel and open conduit to be used of God. So please press the Reset button and forgive Gods way!
Written by Bee
Be Your Best Self for God series