Forgiveness can be one of the most difficult and healing events that takes place in your life. Often, we think it is easier to hold on to the hurt, grudges, negative feelings than it is to forgive. Holding on to anger, hurt, resentment and these negative emotions can take a toll on your health whether you want to realize it or not. Forgiveness takes practice, is healthy and is commanded by God. Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” I think there is a misconception about forgiveness that if you forgive someone that you will be able to forget the harm that was done. This is not true! Forgiveness means that you no longer choose to let that person control your emotions regarding a situation. Forgiving is freeing, it brings peace and joy! Forgiveness also doesn’t mean that you have to be friends or trust that person again. If it is not healthy for you to be around this person than choose not to or make it a priority to set appropriate boundaries.
4 Steps to help you Forgive
1 - Identify how you are feeling and write it down. Recognizing how you are feeling is the first step to being able to forgive. Get it down on paper. Pinpoint exactly how you are feeling and why.
2 - Step away from the situation and explore why the person may have said or done what they did. People have different perspectives that have an influence on the things they say and do. Often it could be because of their past experiences/hurt. Having a better understanding of the other person’s perspective may help you forgive.
3 - Write a forgiveness statement, give it to the Lord and pray. Writing a statement is helpful because you will have it as a reminder to speak outload in the future if the hurt comes up again. Giving it to the Lord does not mean you will forget what happened or that the offender should not be held accountable. Giving it to the Lord may help you from enacting punishment or revenge and trusting God to take care of matter in His time. Pray and ask God to help you deal with the emotions and feelings you are having. Thank God for being the perfect example of how to forgive and for giving us a reason to forgive.
4 - Forgive before it happens again. Forgiveness is a process not an event. It may take some time to work through your emotions. Before you have negative feelings reoccur, make a decision to forgive. This may mean that you need to decide to forgive in an existing relationship before hurt happens again. Choose to forgive! Tell yourself and state out loud. I choose to forgive ________. I choose to not let what ________ did to me have control over my feelings, my emotions and my attitude.
Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Forgiving takes practice, effort, discipline and being intentional. Take the first step, write it down and acknowledge how your are feeling. Forgiving is not a one and done event. There may be some things buried deep inside you that are affecting your health and some forgiving needs to happen so you can move forward.
Is there someone God has placed on your heart that you need to forgive? Is not forgiving someone preventing you from stepping into a new season of your life or holding you back from pursuing all that God has in store for you? Maybe you need to make a decision to forgive before it happens again. Choose now, forgive now!