I am an expert grudge holder and bitterness producer. I have a hard time letting someone go because of the hurt they have caused me. I would rather see them hurt and miserable in the same way they caused me pain than watch them continue to be happy while I sit with my tears. It isn’t pretty: in fact my heart and attitude become ugly when I live in this headspace, not just towards others but in how I view myself.
Holding the disrespect, hurtful words, and actions over another’s head has never helped me deal with the pain. It only feels good for so long to imagine another’s suffering through sassy comebacks. Seeing someone else suffer has never helped me get over the offense towards me. When I was going through 12-steps, I heard forgiveness described for the first time in a way that clicked in my heart.
Forgiveness does not mean you let the person off the hook, forget the pain that you have experienced, and move forward pretending it never happened. Forgiveness is giving the person to God, trusting that He will deal with them as He sees fit. Judgment is not in my hand; God will deal with those who have hurt me and you, in His timing and His way. That is the hard part. Stewing around making revenge plans in our minds is not going to help us move forward.
Forgiveness is not ignoring our pain, but facing it without distraction. Without the weight of revenge on our shoulders, we can look the pain in the eye and journey through it. We can start healing. We can cry without feeling weak. We can talk to our friends about it without putting the other person down. The more we turn towards our pain and away from the person that awakened it within us, our hearts become stronger.
The more we turn towards our pain and away from the person that awakened it within us, our hearts become stronger.
The mean words that were spoken to me hold less power when I start replacing them with what God says about me. When I wake up and realize that maybe I was wrong too, I begin to see my own part in the drama. The abuse I suffered is something that happened to me, but it does not define me. I start realizing maybe I misunderstood the whole situation, and I become brave enough to embrace confrontation and confess my hurt feelings.
Forgiveness is powerful. It has helped me move forward in my hurt, and has allowed me to heal and accept the forgiveness Christ gives me every day. I have gotten to the point where I can see people who have hurt me deeply and not cringe on the inside. I am still working through talking badly about them with my people. Forgiveness is a journey of replacing bitterness with healing and focusing on what God is doing in us, instead of on other people. I am learning and growing as a woman, because of forgiveness. Without forgiveness, our hearts would not be set free.
“Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!” (Micah 7:18-19).
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