Imagine the day Jesus died on the cross. So much pain and sorrow. So much suffering, mockery and tears. But in the midst of all of that, Jesus paused and still spoke of forgiveness.
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
These words are not something that we should dismiss or just read, but let it sink in.
Sometimes I deemed the wrong doings of another in my life as unforgivable- but then I look at the depth of forgiveness Jesus gave and I began to question my thoughts on this issue.
I could write a million pieces on this topic, my personal story and my battle of understanding forgiveness, how to be forgiven, and how to forgive.
But for now I will just write this one. The following is based on my own experience and questions I have asked myself.
Forgiveness is an invitation for healing.
Sometimes the person you forgive is remorseful, and sometimes they are unaware. Sometimes they do not ask for forgiveness and don’t even realize it’s needed. Sometimes people apologize and don’t seem sincere.
So where and what and how do we go about forgiving?
Forgiveness- It’s interesting because sometimes we think there has to be a conversation to finally be able to forgive someone. You know what I mean? It’s as if my attitude won’t change until I hear from their mouth that they are sorry and ask for my forgiveness? Do you ever feel like that? Like we can’t forgive them until we see their repentance? But some situations don’t allow for this. We may never meet face to face those who have hurt us. This has challenged me.
I have noticed and had to ask myself-
Is the lack of forgiveness actually growing bitterness in my heart? And am I becoming the one who needs to be forgiven because my heart is growing hard?
Interesting thought, huh? What if we take it from our hands, then hand it to God and say, “this is too hard for me to deal with and the only way I can forgive is by letting you forgive them for me.”
Sounds child-like, but sometimes I think that’s how we are meant to respond. Maybe we are over contemplating situations that are meant to be simple.
But sometimes the pain we feel goes so much deeper than a simple “I forgive you.” Pain that has been inflicted upon you by someone else. Heavy, dark, painful heart wounds.
Sometimes it’s so deep and painful that it is the constant thought in our mind and it’s unforgivable in our eyes. We can’t seem to forgive this person.
The deepest and most helpful story I’ve ever heard that helped me in my battle to forgive was, Corrie Ten Boom’s story on forgiveness. I would encourage everyone to read it, a simple google search with “Corrie Ten Boom Forgiveness” leads you to this story (or click for the short version I found).
Sometimes the only way to forgive is to trust and glorify Jesus and respond in a way that grows and strengthens your faith.
We may have to wake up for days, months, and years forgiving this person, or people. Some may think this means you have not actually forgiven, but sometimes it takes every thing you have, strength, dying to yourself in the morning, giving it all to Jesus, and reminding yourself how to forgive.
“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Some Prayers we may need to pray:
“Jesus please forgive ___________ for me, I can only forgive in your strength. This is too heavy of a burden for me to carry and my heart is hurting, I can only forgive through your power.”
“Jesus forgive me. Please see my heart and my thoughts and teach me your ways. Help me to forgive myself and help my heart break for what breaks yours.”
“Jesus, I need help forgiving myself. I know you have forgiven me, and I even know others have forgiven me. But I cannot forgive myself unless it’s through your strength.”
Maybe you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you have done things that are too painful to mention. Your actions have hurt not only you but others, and you don’t know what to do. There is power in the gospel and repenting. Ask God to forgive you for you. Seek growth and healthy change, act different in your decisions, make good choices and seek counsel. Ask God to begin to mold and shape your heart after His.
Forgiveness is powerful.
As I mentioned in the beginning, Jesus spoke of forgiveness on the cross. Which teaches us the value and importance.
These powerful words symbolically bridged the relationship between us and God.
Asking for forgiveness and forgiving is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. He’s giving us the ability to experience a miracle, and healing in relationships. It’s a bridge between us and Him.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
I don’t know why I feel I am supposed to write this in here, but…
Maybe you have been married for 10-20+ years and you have a looming unforgiven pain in your marriage. Maybe it’s never been spoken about. Ask God for wisdom, peace, and guidance. Maybe it’s simple, maybe you are meant to forgive even if it’s the hardest decision you will ever make. Maybe you are meant to seek forgiveness, and maybe this will be the most painful but freeing moment in your life. Whoever this paragraph is for, know that I am praying for you.
Maybe you were abused verbally and you don’t know how to forgive the person. It’s too painful and your heart aches even years later. This feels unforgivable. But your heart has grown in bitterness and you feel angry at God. I am praying that your heart begins to release and experience peace and joy. I’m praying that you will begin to heal and that Jesus will comfort your soul.
Maybe someone hurt you physically through an incident and you aren’t sure how to forgive this person. Maybe this person has no idea the impact it’s had on your life. Or maybe they don’t even care. But you’ve noticed that your heart has grown bitter and you’re trying to move on. You’re not alone.
I would encourage you to let go of the “I have to hear it from their mouth that they’re sorry before I forgive.” And maybe this doesn’t resonate with you- if not move on. But if this does resonate with you- maybe you have to choose to forgive to begin healing. I had to realize this in my own story.
Healing through forgiveness helps transform dirt, pain, dead, ugly garbage into beautiful thanksgiving.
“Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.””
Although we can not control others actions, words or just in general how they treat us…we can control how we respond, and how we deal with it in our relationship with Jesus.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in harms way if something is unable to be reconciled, or if it’s unhealthy/toxic to be in contact with these people. However, between us and God we can release these people from our minds and give it to God to help us forgive.
Forgiveness is not condoning actions, or pretending it didn’t happen. It is not re-entering a vulnerable situation.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.”
I have asked myself, does me forgiving this person mean they are getting away with the pain they inflicted on me? But what I have learned is that I am responsible for my response and they are responsible for their actions. God is not just the epitome of wisdom, He is Wisdom, so we can TRUST that He is fully aware of the entire situation. I have learned that in order to forgive I have to invite Jesus in my heart to appropriately respond.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,”
This means no matter how deep the wound, God can heal us. Forgiveness can be a tool to bring this healing.
Practice forgiving and see how your heart begins to transform into thanksgiving. Even if it means the only way you can forgive this person is by giving it to Jesus and asking Him to forgive them for you.
Even if it means there’s never a conversation, and just peace through Jesus. Forgiveness can help release your heart from twisted pain and anchors in the sea of hardship.
At times I had to forgive people, but then that forgiveness gave me the ability to move forward and see the situation with eyes of thanksgiving.
It’s vital to forgive, especially since God showed us forgiveness. Our greatest goal is to glorify Him, to be like Him, and to share with others His greatness.
Not only do you have the power to forgive, you can be forgiven.
Forgiveness is a way where we can practice seeing others through the eyes of Jesus.
Thank you for reading,
*I know this one was a little heavier than usual. But I think that it’s been a huge part of my testimony and story. I’ve experienced healing through forgiving and I have been praying that whoever reads this will experience this healing as well.