In part one, How Forgiveness Heals our Hearts, we looked at some hard issues to forgive. Betrayal is one of the hardest things to forgive, especially when it comes from a friend you trusted. Also, in part one, "The Forgiveness Prayer" is written out. This prayer offers you release from the stronghold of unforgiveness. Praying this consistently will heal your heart like you never imagined possible.
Offenses and Abuse
Offenses and abuse are very real happenings. Sometimes we are offended by a flippant remark. When we hear it, we overreact because the comment triggers a buried offense. Sometimes it is an egregious offense, an assault unjustly put on you. How do you get past such injustice?
If you have been offended or abused, without forgiving the offender, the fallout will show up all over the place. Anger and irrational reactions will harm your relationships. Your emotional health will be in jeopardy and the way you view life will be warped.
If the effects of living in a state of un-forgiveness (anger, bitterness, hostility, isolation, overreaction etc.) resonate with you, please stay with me as I share some keys to set you free.
Consider for a moment the flip-side of stepping out in faith and offering forgiveness. What if you choose to hold on to the pain and replay offenses over and over in your mind remembering how badly you were hurt? When you hold on to anger toward the person who has violated or harmed you, it comes back to bite you. It holds the power to make you bitter. Bitterness spreads like yeast and invades every part of your life; body, mind, and spirit.
What I am about to suggest may not make sense to you at first, but stick with me to the end.
Perhaps you don't want to let go. You feel that if you let go you would be letting your offender off the hook. Think about this, does your offender even know or care that you are hurting? Is your offender aware that you hold deep anger, pain or perhaps hatred toward him? What possible good can come from holding on to these destructive emotions?
The Truth is these harmful emotions have the ability to disrupt and destroy you. Apart from forgiveness, you may turn into the very thing you hate—a bitter, mean-spirited offender.
Forgive the Unexcusable
"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you. This is hard; ... how can we do it? Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night, 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.' We are offered forgiveness on NO other terms. To refuse it means to refuse God's mercy for ourselves." __ C. S. Lewis
Choose to Forgive
POWER OVER YOU
At first thought, it seems ridiculous, even ludicrous to forgive someone who has betrayed, demeaned, debased, destroyed and/or abandoned you, but hang in there and allow me to lead you through a thought process.
Think about this: When you do not forgive you allow your offender to hold power over you. If you allow your offender's actions to keep you in a state of anger, depression or frustration we actually grant them the power to control our emotions (Thank you, dear Esther, for teaching me this..)
What does this mean? It means that as long as we hold onto anger and/or bitterness toward our perpetrator, we are chained and locked to the perpetrator's assault. Our emotions will take on a life of their own and affect every aspect of our life.
If I do not forgive the person who has harmed me, I am held hostage to the ANGER and RAGE I feel about what he did to me. ONLY forgiveness will break those chains and set me free.
If you have read my hub entitled Encounter with God you were given just a glimpse into the type of Dad I had. You may think that my father deserved to be hated, and believe me I did hate him. For far too many years hatred toward my Father clouded my judgment of people, especially men.
You see, I allowed my Dad's treatment of me to define my view of who I was. It affected my ability to trust people. I gave him the power to make me feel small and unworthy. Only through forgiveness could I begin to experience freedom from his hold on my life.
Forgiveness is Ongoing
I now recognize that my Dad's ugliness had nothing to do with me. It was about him, his pain and his issues. He had a terrible life (until the last few years - a miracle story for another day) filled with venomous, violent anger. He was a miserable man. I am quite sure he experienced self-loathing which took a toll on his health.
It wasn't until just recently I discovered that I had (unwittingly) allowed my Dad the power to affect my views and relationship towards God. As in the case with my Dad, forgiveness is not a one time deal.
When I talk about forgiveness, I do not mean that you must go to every person to discuss the hurt.
In fact, if the person is unaware (handle it between you and God) or if he is a troublemaker or mean-spirited person, please DO NOT go to them. Your sincere effort to forgive will probably spark another assault. If there is an encounter to be made with this type of person, it must be initiated by the offender who recognizes the offense and comes to ask for forgiveness.
Forgiveness can be one-sided, taking place in your own heart. Forgiveness is a deliberate choice we make. Once it is made we are no longer held bondage to unhealthy emotions.
FRIENDSHIP: If the person who offended you is a trusted friend; forgive quickly knowing your friend meant no harm. However, If the offense really bothers you, a clearing of the air may be necessary and appropriate. A true friend will allow you to come to him/her with your hurts. They will gain some insight into you and how their words or behavior affects you (and possibly others.)
I have gathered some nuggets of truth about forgiveness, by people you may know. I have also included quotes from Father God.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Martin Luther King
Jesus says that He is the light and equates hate as the equivalent of murder.
"For if you forgive others 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." Matthew 6:15
Whoa, slow down Nellie, these are serious consequences for holding on to UN-forgiveness.
"And when you stand to pray, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25
Do you see what Jesus is saying? If we have something against someone STOP praying to Him. He tells us to forgive that person so that our Father can forgive us.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
God forgave us of our sins. He gave His son Jesus to restore us to Himself and to assure us a home in Heaven where we will dwell for evermore
"To err is human; to forgive, divine." Alexander Pope
We are not able to forgive in our own strength. It takes God's power to wipe out the devastating effects of the offense.
"You may wish to be loving--you may even try with all your might, but your love will never be pure unless you are free from resentment. When we are free from resentment, loving is effortless. When we have to try hard to love, this is generally a sign that we are repressing our resentments."
John Gray (Men, Women, and Relationships)
Release - Pray - Forgive
It's time, my friend. Time to let go and let God do what only He can do. God will deal with the perpetrator, you can count on it.
"Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord." Romans 12:19
Release, pray and forgive it is the only way to find healing and peace for your heart. Remember to go back to Part One and practice the FORGIVENESS PRAYER. It works and when you experience healing, you will move on to a richer, fuller life. We have a choice; Choose to become better, NOT bitter.
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3
Please take time to view the following video. A woman tells the story of her journey from hatred to forgiveness. Watch it all the way to the end and hear Matthew West's heart of prayer in his song Forgiveness - It is POWERFUL!
Forgiveness by Matthew West - A TRUE STORY OF FORGIVING THE UNTHINKABLE
© 2013 Susan Ream