Oh forgiveness. Something we all want when we ask for it, but something that seems so hard to give when we are hurt. I am sure we have all been hurt by someone before. The moment when our trust is broken, a friendship is lost, we are judged, and so many more. I am sure many people have the gift of forgiveness. I know I don’t have that gift, I am continually learning it. I seem to be overly trusting and then when that trust is broken, walls go up and it is very hard to break them down. I have learned alot about forgiveness these past couple years.
I don’t know about you, but it seems God leads me through things that are hard and I have no clue why I am going through them. However when it is all done, I look back and can say, wow, I am glad I went through that. I don’t think I would do it again but it has taught me something and made me stronger. I think he leads me through some things to teach me how to forgive and love to the fullest. I still am learning and still struggle but I have learned to overcome my skewed thoughts on forgiveness.
My skewed view before:
1. Why forgive when the person is most likely going to hurt you again?
2. If I hold onto the hurt, somehow, sometime it will be made right
3. If I make everyone happy I wont have to deal with hurt
4. For me insecurity of myself played a huge part in the struggle to forgive and love those who hurt me.
I don’t know if I am the only one who has felt that list, or if others feel the same way. I just want to share with you how I have overcome these because forgiveness is such a huge thing in freeing yourself.
1. This was really hard for me to get past. I think it stems back to the walls going up. If I forgave the person and let the walls down, what happens if they hurt me again? I was scared to be wall free and vulnerable again. If I kept them at arms distance and they hurt me again it wouldn’t be as bad right? It was as if I was expecting it again, just waiting till that hurt came. I thought this would shelter my hurting heart. This is not true. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Not one of us is perfect. Someone described forgiveness to me and it seemed to click. I know it sounds so obvious, but for me I had never thought of it this way. I always thought of forgiveness as making all the hurt go away and never come back. When God looks down on us, he wants to see us for who we are. When we ask for his forgiveness and he forgives us, he is wiping our slate clean so he can see you for who you are, not our sins. So when we forgive, it needs to be the same kind of forgiveness. So for example, if Loren says something that hurts me, then asks for forgiveness, instead of dwelling on “well if I forgive him he may do it again”, I focus on forgiving him in that moment and wiping his slate clean so I can see him for who he really is. All his great qualities and not the mistakes he makes, because we ALL make mistakes. We most likely are going to get hurt again, and then in that moment we need to forgive again.
2. I would roll it over and over in my mind, trying to figure out how that person could have been so mean, or what did I do to make them act that way toward me? I thought that if I held onto that hurt and remembered it, someday they would ask me to forgive them. I have heard the saying that goes something like a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. I knew it was true, but couldn’t get over it. In some weird way I thought that holding onto that hurt somehow made me feel better. That is a LIE! If we choose to forgive (even if it was not asked for) we free ourself from the constant thoughts on it. Sure a memory may be sparked, but we are not dwelling on it all the time, when we choose to wipe their slate clean.
3. I am the kind of person who doesn’t want to make anyone mad or hurt anyone’s feelings. I am a people pleaser, so when someone hurts me, I blame myself and wonder what I did wrong. I just want to let you in on a secret: you will NEVER please everyone. So stop trying. We need to place ourself in Jesus’ hands and listen to his still small voice. That is what should guide us. Not how to please everyone. Now of course we don’t want to stir up trouble just because we know we can’t please everyone, but when you give yourself the grace to just relax and place everything in Jesus hands, it gives you a peace and freedom. No matter how hard you try you will not please everyone, so let that requirement go. Just do your best, and leave God the rest. So when the hurt comes, you don’t wonder where did I go wrong, but rather, now I choose to forgive. God has given me grace, so I will give that grace to others.
4. You need to find security in yourself. Jesus loves every single person just the same. That in itself should give you amazing security. But if you are like me and struggled with it, reading it is a whole lot easier than applying it. Overcoming insecurity and low self worth is a whole separate topic, but I think it is huge in forgiving and loving. When hurts come and you struggle with insecurity, it is much harder to forgive and love. It makes you feel as if you did something wrong and you beat yourself up even more. What you need to know is that we are all different people and have different upbringings, thoughts, convictions, goals, etc. With all the differences in the world, it is guaranteed that we will clash somewhere, sometime. We need to learn not to take those clashes personal. When you find the security and self worth in yourself in Jesus Christ, you will find that hurts wont ruin you like they may have before. I can now take those hurts to Jesus and figure out if the disagreement or hurt was meant to A) help me, B) hurt me, or C) it was unintended to bring hurt. I think in a weird way A and B can sort of go hand in hand. It all depends on how the person is intending it to be taken. Some people say hurtful things that are not meant to be hurtful. And others say them indenting to hurt you. On the flip side things may happen that seems to be hurtful to you, but is really helping you in the long run. I think in recognizing these categories can help in deciding how to deal with the conflict. Overall, the end result of forgiveness is the same, but the way you react is different. If I determine that it is meant to help me I usually thank the person and pray about the issue. I work out the end result with Jesus. If it is meant to hurt me I usually pray that the hurt can be removed from my heart and then I pray for the person. Instead of dwelling on how mean it was, I pray for the person, because if they are intentionally doing something to hurt you, I am sure they are really hurting and need the prayers. If it is unintentional, I just pray that I can see it as just that. It was a difference in personality and it was not meant for harm. And of course in all of them, wiping their slate clean!
Forgiveness is not easy, but it is worth it. I never believed it could be so freeing, but when you look at is without a skewed vision, it is. We are all human, and we will all make mistakes. Each of us deserves the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that our Lord gives to us. By forgiving, I am not saying it is going to erase all the hurtful memories and just make everything perfect. I still have hurts arise in certain situations, the difference is I am freed from them. Before they had me and now I have them. I can look on things now with a love that I didn’t have before. In Mark 12 verses 30-31 it tells us the greatest commandments. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. By learning to forgive we can look on our neighbors with a love that we may have never had before.