Last week someone I know asked me a question, how do I forgive? How do I get past the pain I feel from the mean words people say about me?
It was a great question, but so hard to answer. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. Why? Because it involves letting go of pride and offense. It makes us dig really deep and make the choice to forgive those who hurt us. Forgiveness comes down to that simple choice, either you forgive and move on or you hold on to the pain and live with it for however long it takes you to let go.
So many stories of forgiveness come to mind as I write this post, so many I can’t talk about. Some that would hurt others if I talk about them. Some stories are hard and still sting a bit, some stories are still in process. But for years I have chosen to forgive others, because Jesus forgave me. He forgave us without asking questions, He chose the cross for us, He loves us regardless of how many times we break His heart. He loves us regardless of how many times we turn away from Him. The word is very clear on forgiveness, you have a choice but not forgiving can cause more pain. I have seen it first hand, unforgiveness can cause physical ailments, stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia. I have experienced some of those first hand, and personally I rather let go.
So, how do I forgive?
For me it’s a process, the harder things that go deep in my heart take time. There have been times that weeks go by and I don’t even notice I am angry or upset. My husband can attest to that. I have to figure it out on my own, and I usually do. I know when I realize I am not myself, my mood changes, I start to get headaches more often and sometimes back pain from the burden I am carrying. That’s when I start to explore and ask Jesus what is on my heart. I can usually figure it out fast, sometimes it takes a lot of prayer because I have managed to really bury and mask the pain. Anyway, when I finally realize what is going on. I begin the process of forgiving. Ready for this?
I make the choice to forgive, it’s not a feeling. Feelings are fleeting, they come and go.
When I think about the person who hurt me I pray for them. A simple God bless them will have to do. Most of the time, if I am really hurt I can’t come up with a better prayer. God knows what I mean, He knows my heart. The one thing that works for me is I remind myself “I forgave him/her”. I remind myself that the feelings that are in my heart will one day leave. I stop all the negative thoughts that come flooding into my mind and just move on, knowing I am making a choice.
Jesus chose to forgive us, He chose it even before we repented. Sometimes people don’t even know they hurt you, sometimes you won’t get an apology. And we have to be okay with that. Jesus will heal the pain, He will heal all the hurt because that’s who He is. When we choose to follow Him and obey Him, He will honor our intentions and make us whole. That is His heart for me and for you.