Yes let’s take a moment to collectively admit that this is going to be a heavy topic. I’ll keep it short sweet and to the point for all our sakes but first let’s do the right thing and start off with some scripture shall we?
Ephesians 4:32 : “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Matthew 6:14 : “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”
Matthew 18:21-22 : “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.’ “
That’s just a few to make the point that forgiveness isn’t even a suggestion or a passing thought as much as a command from the Lord. But can we agree that forgiving someone is hard a HELL (yes actual hell). So if it’s so difficult for us humans then why would God make it a non-negotiable?
It’s About You Not Them
Everything that a person does flows from their heart. Quite literally speaking you can’t live if blood isn’t being pumped from your heart but in a spiritual sense, there’s absolutely nothing good that comes from a morally or spiritually corrupt heart. This concept takes a little bit of maturity and faith but stick with me. The devil attacks us humans in very few ways. He’s a creature of habit and if you study his ways long enough you’ll learn where you’re the most vulnerable.
God makes it very clear in His word that having community with other believers and relationships with one another and with Him is extremely important and vital to who we are as Christians. Well why then does the devil love to cause strife and quarrel and pain between God’s people? Well DUH, because if we continue to allow pain and hurt from other people into our hearts and minds, we will continue to isolate ourselves from community. Read that until you get it.
Not forgiving people when they’ve hurt you, only leads to you isolating yourself from the very community that you are created and designed to part of. The Bible describes the Christian community as a working body. If you cut yourself off from the body, they likely will be able to survive without you, but it’s impossible for you to survive without them.
Forgiving someone from wrong doing and hurt is ONLY about you. God will handle THEM, you handle YOU.
Write It Out
The truth is many times we’re unable to move past a situation until we feel validated in some way; Until we feel like we’ve been heard or until someone else understands our suffering. Not every single case is one that you can have a conversation with someone. In the case of domestic or sexual abuse, there’s likely not a chance that you’ll ever have to openly talk to the person that abused you, nor do you likely want to see their face. So what’s to be done?
A concept I was told about many years ago was Burn Letters. It’s a letter that you HAND write then burn. You write every single nasty, ugly and horrible thing that you can possibly think you’d ever want to say to that person, seal it up and go light it (carefully) on fire. REALLY IMPORTANT THING: Pray for God to forgive you too. Here’s one that I’ve prayed in the past over a burn letter if you need some help:
Jesus, thank you for being here for me right now. Thank you for seeing me and for hearing me and for knowing the pain I feel. Thank you for giving me the words to say to (insert their name) even if they may never hear them or read them. I ask that you would forgive me for holding on to the anger, hurt and pain that someone else caused me and for whatever sin that may have caused me to act in. I ask that you allow me to move forward from this day with no more anger, hurt or pain and that I can walk in total freedom from this moment forward. Amen.
Talk To God As Often As You Need
Truth be told there are some people I have written multiple burn letters about. There are some people that I’ve had the opportunity to speak to and I still just got mad all over again the next time I saw their name somewhere or heard someone mention them. There are some people I haven’t been able to FULLY forgive and I know that one day I will. In the meantime, I give God that hurt, anger and pain over and over again until it’s gone. God is there, 24/7 and longs to heal my heart and yours too. Even if it takes longer than you’d like, just give it to God until you know it’s gone.
Don’t be afraid to buy books, go to therapy sessions, attend skype meetings or whatever else you need in order to move forward from any pain you might have. God has placed doctors, therapists, friends and family members in our lives for a reason and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about when we need a little extra help or prayer from someone. The biggest step is to surround yourself with resources that you can trust to help you when you need it. You also have to commit to opening yourself up and not holding onto pain.
There’s a power in holding anger over someone. When it’s loved ones or people you interact with regularly, it can feel so good for them to treat you a certain way knowing they’ve hurt you. Unfortunately a lot of victims of abuse hold on to that power for a lifetime, others of us just rub a wrong doing in someone’s face for the rest of their lives.
Jesus is more than a perfect example of a human that deserved to be angry, to demand that people treat him a certain way after his resurrection. He could have easily shown up a the roman soldiers house and demand their apologies or anything he wanted. Instead he found compassion on them.
A saying that you may or may not have heard but is one of my motto’s, “Hurt People, Hurt People”. In essence, if you look at the life, background or personal issues that someone is going through, they’re more than likely to ALSO have gone through some pain, which caused them to act out and hurt others.
Like that prayer above, we tend to act in a sinful way when we’re trying to validate our pain. Sometimes we hurt others, sometimes we hurt ourselves and most of the time we do both. Just like WE act out when we’re hurting, others do to. If you can for a moment set aside your emotion and think rationally you’ll come to realize that the person who hurt you deserves compassion and in some cases empathy for their situation.
Again, it hurts like hell and can be harder than anything you’ve walked through in life but oh my goodness the freedom and POWER you have when you let all of that weight go.
My sweet friend, I pray that you can just let go. Let go of the need to be in control. Let go of the hurt in your heart that causes you to close off from others around you or to act harshly towards others. See the people who have hurt you for just a moment as God sees them and talk to Him about dealing with his child and YOU.
Don’t let UN-forgiveness keep you from a life full of joy and hope and most of all don’t let it keep you from Jesus.