4 Pieces of Advice to Help You Forgive
If you’re carrying around unforgiveness you are in bondage. You’re stuck. You’re wondering why you aren’t able to live life abundantly and it’s because you’re sinking in quick sand.
My greatest fear is not death, is not snakes and spiders (although those are pretty gross), it’s not someone walking away from me … my greatest fear is staying in the same place. I don’t want to be the same 5 years from now. Heck! I don’t want to be the same 5 months from now or 5 weeks from now or 5 days from now. You get what I’m saying, right?
For years I have been frustrated on the treadmill of life. Moving at a fast pace and getting nowhere! Activity doesn’t necessarily mean productivity. It just means that you’re in motion but getting nowhere fast.
If you’re living with unforgiveness then you are on the treadmill of life. Holding on to the offense isn’t hurting them – it’s hurting you. It’s keeping you a prisoner. The person who hurt you has moved on. They may not even know that they’ve hurt you. You could be holding on to an offense from 10 years ago that the offender has no clue they even caused in your life. Now tell me who is being punished?
Let’s say they meant to hurt you. Okay. It happens. Be hurt. Cry. Be upset. Move on. Don’t let what they did define you. Don’t let what they did direct your course. Don’t give other people that much power in your life.
It’s time to stop talking about it. It’s time to stop talking about them. It’s seriously time to move on. Go to The Lord, by faith offer forgiveness and move on. I’ve listed 4 pieces of advice that have helped me push through unforgiveness in hopes that it will help you get unstuck:
Forgive A Million Times
I know this seems easier said than done but truly it’s a simple choice. You choose to forgive them. I didn’t say you feel like you forgave them. You just simply choose to forgive them – and sometimes over and over and over again.
I get it. This message is not always an easy one to swallow. I held an offense toward a group of folks and an organization who hurt me for 3 years. I wasn’t being malicious or evil toward them but I was clearly still bothered by something that happened 3 years ago.
I went to The Lord. I prayed for them and what had been done to me and I repented for what I had done to them. I moved on … until someone would mention them. I wouldn’t slander them but I would roll my eyes or I would make a sarcastic remark. There was a weed of unforgiveness in my heart and even if it was a tiny seed, weeds tend to grow up and choke out all that is fruitful.
For 2 years I would pray about forgiving this particular group but during the 3rd year I got very intentional and specific about the prayer. I told God that even if I had to pray and offer forgiveness 500 times a day – I would do it until it came to pass.
Sometimes you have to forgive more than once. God forgives us and move on. He remembers it no more. We’re a little more yucky than God although we’re made in His image our flesh still gets in the way on this side of eternity. Keep offering the forgiveness up to The Lord. Allow Him to work on your heart in the process. Don’t be discouraged – sometimes it takes time and offer forgiveness a million times.
Wrestle With God
3 years later and with a seed of unforgiveness still lingering – I went to The Lord and sat with Him for 3 hours. I envision those 3 hours as my wresting match with The Lord. The scripture says in Genesis 32 that Jacob wrestled with God. Jacob would not let go until he was blessed. God blessed him and changed the course of his life immediately following that wrestling match.
Obviously I don’t mean physically putting God in a head lock … you’re on your own with that! I mean sitting before The Lord and saying “I’m not moving from this spot until you remove this seed in my heart.” God loves it so much when we go to Him and say, “I can’t do this on my own, you’re going to have to do it.” His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.
I honestly think my heart needed 3 years to truly offer forgiveness but I didn’t just wait for 3 years with a stubbornness that I wasn’t going to forgive because I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t feel like it – but it was the honorable thing to do. It took time. My heart needed to be tilled. Rough soil needed to be softened. Weeds needed to be extracted. That took time and that’s okay. It doesn’t make you any less of a follower of Jesus if it takes time for you to fully offer forgiveness.
Sit before God and wrestle with Him until He blesses what you’re asking for. The scripture says that God touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and he walked with a limp. Jacob walked away with a battle wound but was blessed nonetheless. You may walk away with a battle wound but don’t let it stop you from wrestling with God.
Starve The Pain
In order to starve something you’ve got to stop feeding it. You have got to stop talking about the offense. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk through a hurt place in your heart with one or two trusted sources but don’t get stuck. Trust me – your friends are tired of hearing about it!
The only way to put out the fire is to suffocate it. Stop pouring fuel on it and stop giving life to it. If you’re critical of them – do not go look at their social media pages and keep up with them. The enemy LOVES when you do this. Looking at them keeps the pain alive and hungry. Starve the pain! The block feature is your friend! That’s not petty. It’s smart and it keeps you from seeing any of their activity and helps you to gain the strength to stop fueling the fire.
It will be hard the first couple of weeks but I promise it gets easier. When you starve the pain you are making a conscious effort to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. You are intentionally keeping a guard over your heart. You get to decide what you let in to your life. You get to decide what you think about and what you talk about.
By the stripes of Jesus we have been healed. That’s past tense and it applies to every area of your life. Healing is yours. It’s already been paid for. It’s already been freely give to you. If you want to truly forgive – you’ve got to starve the pain and walk in the healing that belongs to you.
It’s all fun and games until YOU have to take responsibility. But that’s exactly what you need to do here. As you’re working on forgiving others don’t lose sight of your own faults.
We have all hurt someone whether it was intentional or not. It’s extremely frustrating when someone gets hurt by you and it wasn’t even intentional. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you don’t go around intentionally trying to hurt people and yet you’ve still fallen short, right? Did you apologize to them?
While we were still sinners Christ died for us. He didn’t wait until we were sorry. He didn’t wait for an apology. He didn’t punish us or hold our ignorance against us. Jesus didn’t keep bringing up the past so that we could feel shame and guilt for our actions. He said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” This needs to be our attitude if we are living for Christ and representing Him. It’s not easy but it’s doable.
You have to take responsibility with what you do with your life after you’ve been hurt. I’m not excusing what they did to you. I’m telling you to refuse to become a victim. You can’t control them. You can’t control the hurt that comes your way but you can control what you’re going to do with that pain and how you’re going to react.
Forgiveness doesn’t make them right. Forgiveness doesn’t justify what they did … forgiveness just simply sets you free. They’ve done enough. Why give them more valuable energy, effort, and time? Throw off everything that is hindering you and run with perseverance the race that God has marked before you. Fix your eyes on Jesus, not humans, but Jesus – the creator and perfecter of our faith. Don’t grow weary. Don’t lose heart.
You are dearly loved!