To the person struggling with forgiveness:
Forgiveness is hard, no doubt. Sometimes it feels impossible even.
You might describe how you feel in some of these ways:
“I get an icky feeling when I think about this person.”
“Even though it’s been years, I want them to see how well I’m doing without them.”
“I want revenge.”
“Things remind me of them and I get really angry.”
Resentment and bitterness follow us around when we don’t forgive others. It just happens. And it’s unfortunate because forgiveness is not easy.
In fact, I honestly think forgiveness might be one of the most difficult parts of being a Jesus follower. Forgiving someone feels so wrong when they have hurt us so deeply.
Yet, we are called do it anyway.
When I hear horror stories of how people have been treated by others, sometimes I ask God questions like “you can’t really expect them to forgive that, can you?!”
I’m always reminded that God knows what He is doing when he calls us to forgiveness. And it really is for our best interest that we follow that call.
He knows how damaging resentment, anger, bitterness and dwelling on the past can be on our soul. He knows how it can seep into our heart like poison and cloud our ability to experience joy, peace and grace.
He knows it’s best for US if we forgive others because WE get to experience freedom from carrying this heavy weight around.
I also believe God does not call us to forgive so that He can diminish our feelings or experience.
There is a difference between forgiving and acting like something never happened.
Forgiveness is not saying “what they did to me was ok” it’s more like “I’m choosing to let go of this so I can be ok”.
Forgiveness never gives someone an “out” for what they did. It does however, give you an out from the weight of it all.
Because the truth is that no matter how much time or energy we put into judging the person who hurt us, it doesn’t make a difference. Judgment is not our job, it’s God’s.
Please hear me out: I’m not saying this is easy or there is some simple formula to this.
In fact, I thought I forgave someone years ago only to find that recently those feelings bubbled back up to the surface and I recognized I wasn’t completely over it.
Maybe you’ve experienced that too.
Sometimes it’s not a one and done type of thing. Sometimes saying “I forgive them” once isn’t going to make it all go away.
Sometimes you’ll need to continually choose forgiveness because your brain will be telling you differently.
Keep choosing forgiveness anyway. For YOU. For your soul. For your faith. Keep choosing it over and over so you can feel free.
And in those times when it feels impossible? Ask God to intervene and give you the strength to forgive, because we can’t do this on our own.
But it is possible.
So keep choosing it, friend.
Because you deserve it.
Because you will live a better life.
And because forgiveness is so graciously given to you, too.
~Kelli Bachara, The Unraveling Blog