How Forgiveness Heals - You Must Allow It to Fill Your Heart
Forgiveness and Healing
What does my offer of forgiveness have to do with the healing of my own heart?
If someone has done me wrong, why should I forgive that person?
Aren't there some offenses that are unforgivable?
To offer forgiveness to our offender means to receive inner healing for ourselves. Forgiveness and healing are intimately related. Here is the connection: The power of offering forgiveness (whether deserved or undeserved) is the power that heals the heart of the one who forgives.
When we choose (yes, it is a choice) to forgive it releases us from the chains that bind our hearts to pain. Choosing to forgive opens our heart's door to inner peace.
Forgiveness may seem impossible; maybe even inconceivable to those who have suffered at the hands of someone's abuse, anger, neglect or unjust actions.
The only way, in these cases, to forgive is to choose to forgive. You don't have to feel anything, in fact, most likely you will never feel like forgiving, at least at first.
This article will cover two types of hurt and devastation that have the power to ruin our lives .. if we let it. The first type is the pain of betrayal and the second is a parental failure.
"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." Mark Twain
Have you ever been betrayed? The anguish and pain of betrayal go deep when it comes from someone you trust. Perhaps betrayal came to you through an authority figure - a person who should have looked out for you, loved and protected you.
Betrayal is a shake up of our sense of security and reality .. it is a slap in the face by someone we once trusted and with whom we felt safe. It HURTS! It is a pain deep within that, if left unchecked, will continually fester and spread infectious, destructive emotions all through our soul.
We must deal with betrayal as Jesus did. All through His life He gave of Himself and loved yet betrayal followed Him everywhere He went.
Do you remember His words as he hung there on the cross .. nailed to a cruel tree by those who hated and betrayed Him? He was betrayed yet this was His response, "Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." Luke 23:34
A friend is one in whom our heart safely trusts. When that trust is broken, by betrayal it turns our world inside out and upside down. The pain of betrayal goes deep .. real deep!
When a friend or trusted confidant betrays you, by talking to others and scheming about you behind your back, it is paralyzing and suffocating.
Friend betrayal leads to many tormenting questions like, "How could she do this to me? Why didn't she take the time to work through this with ME rather than plotting behind my back? I trusted her!!!
It is hard to wrap your mind around the fact that the person whom you called a friend, the one you had safely trusted in and become vulnerable to - did not protect your name but in fact, schemed against you.
Betrayal leaves your heart in a heap of ashes. The Innocence of trust is violated. The rippling effects of betrayal and deception can work its way through our emotions and lead us to a crisis.
What will we do with our broken heart? How do you forgive a friend or confidant who has, so to speak, stuck a knife in your back?
Did your parents fail you miserably? Did you feel unloved as a result of parental detachment?
Did your Mom or Dad take their anger out on you, did they abuse you? We all know there are unspeakable forms of abuse that go on behind closed doors.
Parenting failure, at any level, hurts a child and follows them through their whole lives.
The child who has suffered through abuse, whether it be neglect, demeaning words, physical or sexual abuse, will grow up to pay the price for the sins of their parents or other trusted adult figures.
The child whose mother or father failed to provide a safe place will face many issues and obstacles in life. Issues such as abandonment, PTSD, fear, insecurity, panic attacks, low self- esteem and more. All of these are the result of parenting failures.
Many of us, hurt in childhood, harbor anger, pain, resentment, and UN-forgiveness. These agents of destruction are responses that got firmly planted in our being as children.
There are some who have lived through horrific abuse in their home, the place where they should have been protected and sheltered.
A person wounded in childhood will trigger at the least memory of abuse.
Paul Hedgestrom, the founder of Life Skills International, said this about triggers: "When your reaction to a situation is greater than the situation calls for .. you can be sure it comes from your childhood."
Through Life Skills, I began to see the baggage I carried from childhood abuse. I finally understood why I triggered over seemingly, insignificant situations. In time, I learned to recognize the trigger. Being aware of why I triggered helped me to be proactive rather than reactive.
Identifying wrong thinking patterns was the first step. The second step was to counter those triggers with God's truth.
It takes practice and a commitment to counter every lie with truth, but with practice, you can change your life.
Working hard to heal the wounds of childhood is a process and forgiveness is the closure.
Do you believe in God?
I am a believer in God and His truth taught in the Bible. I look to His Word for counsel in all areas of life.
As I have struggled through my emotional pain, I knew where to go for answers. As a believer in God as creator, redeemer, friend and the giver of life, I go to God's Word for answers:
- What does God say about being offended or deeply hurt?
- What do I do with the rage and anger I feel ....
- What is it, God, that you would have me to do?
As I search the Bible, I see the answer; The answer is to forgive .. WHAT, you might say, FORGIVE?
Yes, but Jesus calls us to not only forgive but also bless those who persecute you. I can almost hear your thoughts, "You've got to be kidding me!!!" Nope, He's not kidding. His ways are NOT our way.
Here is how He explains the difference between the Great I AM and we His children: Isa 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Here is a taste of the counsel to be found in the Bible on Forgiveness:
- "Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." Col. 3:13
- "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you." Matthew 6:14
- "And when you stand to pray, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." Mark 11:25
- "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." Matthew 18:21, 22
- "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 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. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:17-21
- "No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord."
As a believer, my motivation to forgive includes my profound gratitude for the forgiveness God has given to me for my sin and the price Jesus paid to cover that sin.
The one who created me knows how I tick. His word tells me how to handle ALL of life's circumstances. His word is TRUTH. If I want to be forgiven of the wrongs I have done - God says I MUST forgive those who have wronged me.
Break the Bondage
A wise friend of mine taught me what he deemed the forgiveness Prayer (thank you Mark) which has enabled me to break the bondage of unforgiveness.
A few years ago an offense happened that hurt me to the core; It was an attack on my husband's character ... "
I consciously and repeatedly prayed this prayer of forgiveness for three days. On the third day, something very profound and miraculous happened on the inside of me; I felt the forgiveness I prayed for in Faith.
My heart felt completely mended, and my attitude was supernaturally changed. God put compassion in my heart for the man who had hurt us so deeply.
Below I will share this very healing prayer. I prayed, every time the hurt or angry thoughts surfaced. Pray it out-loud and allow the words to wash over you and sink deep into your soul. It works!
The Forgiveness Prayer
Dear Lord, I choose to forgive Martin (not his real name) for (begin to list the offenses and hurts). I choose to forgive him for these things ... (list the offenses) out of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ ...... Right now I choose to release him out of my grip and into your hands to do with as you please.
You do not have to feel forgiving to forgive. Forgiveness is a choice you make - your feelings with follow.
After a few days, whenever negative emotions flared up and I prayed this prayer, I found myself emotional with tears of compassion toward Marvin. I began to include these words at the end of that prayer.... "and Lord, after you have opened his eyes, please draw him to your breast and let Him know how much you love him - heal his heart, Lord."
Amazingly, by choosing to forgive Marvin, God changed me. He changed me from the inside, from a heart of stone, He gave me a heart of compassion.
It's a very simple prayer. But it had the power to cut the bondage of unforgiveness and the possibility that a root of bitterness would spring up and fester within my heart. Bitterness is an ugly bedfellow.
A continuation on the topic of Forgiveness and the power it has to heal the brokenhearted. Part two delves into offenses and abuse and the power unforgiveness has to keep us in bondage.