Couragious Forgiveness

background-1135051_1280Sometimes, it takes raw courage to forgive.

This is an ongoing theme in my life. Forgiving, even when it hurts (me). Looking back, I see a line of courageous forgivers. The Amish families who lost their children. Corrie Ten Boom. And further back in history, Stephen (early church deacon who was stoned to death for his faith).

The troubles of my past pale in comparison. But they still hurt. The human reaction for most of us is to hold on to them. To hate the one who hurt us. To punish the perpetrator through our ongoing hate.

Deep inside, I know that kind  of possessive unforgiveness hurts me more than anyone else. Those who committed the worst things that ever happened to me are dead now. They’ve met their fate, and they met it without my spoken forgiveness. I came to this knowledge too late. But I have now forgiven them. Their slate is clean with me.

flower-946502_1280Why does it matter? I no longer suffer under the weight of holding on to someone’s guilt. I’ve been spiritually healed of the pain inflicted on me, because of this passage of scripture… “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (John 8: 14-15 NIV)

Pay close attention to verse fifteen. It holds a devastating truth. Don’t overlook it.

Forgiving others sets you free. When I let go of the pain of my past, something died inside of me. But it was a good death. No longer would I be in its death grip. I am free of the pain. And those who caused that pain are in God’s hands. I am completely free.

Here’s another life-giving realization that came to me when I pondered my freedom: Unforgiveness is one of the strongest tools of the enemy. Satan uses unforgiveness–in your life–to steal your joy, your health, happiness, peace. He uses it to kill, and to destroy. With it, he destroys families…lives. Yours. Not the one who sinned against you.

death-1013386_1920I held my hurt and pain in a tight fist for so long, I couldn’t enjoy life. If anything in my life reminded me of what happened, I curled up in a fetal position (inside, if not physically) and felt dead. Others were hurt and confused by my attitude. Until the day I discovered these scriptures and decided it was time to let it go.

It wasn’t easy. Even after the initial spoken forgiveness, I was reminded throughout the day, every day, of what had been done to me. I’m not exaggerating. So I faced it with courage. I took every thought captive. When the thoughts came, they brought pain with them. I forgave all over again. I took a step further and replaced feelings of hurt and pain and hate with love. But not in my name. “Father, forgive me. Replace the hateful memories. Heal my heart and help me love.”

1-Passion FlowerYears have passed since that time. The hurtful thoughts came less and less. My heart gradually healed. Some babies are born with a hole in their heart. Most are healed naturally, as they grow. The hole closes. Their hearts are healthy. That’s what happened to me, but spiritually. The hole in my heart closed up. It’s sealed and strong. It took courage. I would like to take all the glory for that, but I can’t.

It was God’s love. I am so loved by God. “For God so loved the world, He gave his only Son…” As a believer, my faith has made me whole.

I share this so perhaps you can be whole also. If you suffer under the weight of unforgiveness, consider what I said in the paragraph above. How much joy have you allowed to pass by, so you could hold on to this pain? How much peace?

Take a chance. Be courageous. Forgive, that you might be forgiven.

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4 thoughts on “Couragious Forgiveness

  1. Betty beautifully put and I also found it interesting that you used dandelions in the pictures. The seed form always reminds me of the seeds of bitterness that are blown to those around us when we are unforgiving and hold on to those things which destroy us. Eventually the seeds we sow in others because of our actions and words can take root and the cycle will continue and Satan never had to do a thing to help it along. Forgiveness is an everyday thing when we lest expect it a little thought and then entertaining on our part can reopen that wound and well there goes the neighborhood. I believe that as we grow we are able to realize we need to do this out of obedience not feeling. Guess what, sometimes it feels good and justified but you know the end result is the same and it was only for a season and we have a mess to clean up once again. May the Lord continue to bless your writings and your life dear friend.

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  2. Thanks, Robin! You’re absolutely right about the justification. But kind of like a food fight. It might be fun, but what a mess to clean up! 🙂

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