That’s a tough subject for many, especially when you’ve been deeply hurt. A big part of my story revolved around the wrong definition of what forgiveness meant. Questions led to fear and that fear led to beating myself up over and over again unknowingly leaving the door open to more hurt.
What is forgiveness?
To make a choice to pardon or release someone based on a wrong they did…that’s forgiveness. It’s doesn’t at all mean that the wrong was justified or that it never happened. Some think that to forgive is to admit that what someone did wasn’t wrong. That you, the one hurt, doesn’t have a reason to be hurt or offended. That they, the offender, is off the hook. Wrong! There are consequences, but we are not always the one to determine what those are. It is NOT a get out of jail free card for them…it’s for you. To be free from anger, resentment, bitterness, and pain. It’s a gift you give yourself.
I was taught that just so long as they said “sorry” that was enough. Well, that’s not enough for me and I found that’s not enough for God either. He requires more, a godly sorrow that leads to repentance and a change of heart and actions.
“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 NLT
Proof is what I like to call it. How many times have you asked for forgiveness and turned around and did the same thing again? Or, someone has said sorry only to turn around and repeat their behavior? We must live by Gods standard, especially if we hold others to them.
What isn’t forgiveness?
Forgiveness is not shoving things under the carpet. Forgiveness is not forgetting it ever happened. That’s denial and avoidance. Doing this hides us from the truth and closing the door on our healing. Pain left unhealed blinds us to our future. We can’t move forward because we are always looking back.
Forgiveness doesn’t have to establish a relationship. This is where so many people have it wrong. They think to forgive is to allow that someone back in your life. In some cases this will happen and relationships can be restored. Sometimes, relationships are altered and require strict boundaries, if not a temporary or permanent separation. Take abuse for example. Should someone who is being abused allow the abuser access to them just because they apologized? Or should there be boundaries that limit relationship and access until a pattern of sincerity and changed behavior is proven?
Sadly, so many of us don’t know how to forgive and begin the process of healing because we have been misinformed.
Forgiveness is a choice. Gods word tells us to forgive so that we can be forgiven.
“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NLT
Although we may never do what someone has done to us we are not perfect. We too, are human. Imperfect. It’s a process. We are a process. It took me a moment to forgive and years to walk out the process of healing. It took a moment to ask for forgiveness, but time to learn a new way. This is a process that if we can walk it out no matter the pain, we can be free, eventually. Free from the stains we caused and free from the stains that others have left behind.
I don’t pretend to have it all together. Many days I have to remind myself that it takes time. Being quick to forgive is hard, but freeing. Knowing that I need Gods forgiveness keeps my heart pliable to truth…Gods truth.
I pray Gods truth would be louder than our past hurts, lies, and misunderstandings. My desire is that we can move forward and experience healing, healing that leads to freedom. Freedom that helps us set others free!