Who do you need to forgive? I don’t mean just saying, “I’m over it.” I mean real forgiveness. Who changes your heart for the worse when you think of or have to deal with them? Who are you fighting inwardly?
At one time or another, we’ll all have to deal with someone who we wish would become invisible to us, or at the very least become someone we could like, love, or trust once again.
Maybe you’re dealing with that right now. Maybe you’ve been wronged, misunderstood, or violated. Maybe the other person thinks they are the innocent party.
The freedom we so want from hard or hurtful relationships can only be found one way: through forgiveness. Yet, the seemingly simple act of forgiving can be so hard! Sometimes we don’t feel the other person is worthy of our forgiveness. Sometimes we don’t think they’re really sorry. Sometimes we just don’t even care enough about them anymore to say the words. It just doesn’t seem fair when you didn’t do anything wrong, and then you’re the one who has to forgive.
Here’s the deal. Without forgiveness we become bitter. We allow the person or the situation to own us. Resentment slowly consumes our thoughts and prevents us from being the person we want to be. Forgiveness isn’t a sign of our weakness, but it is the ultimate test of our humility.
Here are some actions I’ve learned to take when I know I need to forgive.
- Think of the times when the relationship was healthy. Don’t focus on how or when it went sour. Think only of when it was good.
- Pray for your ability to forgive. Pray for the other person’s success.
- If appropriate, let the person know that you’d like to work towards forgiveness. You do not have to confront them at first (that’s a big step). Just start with yourself.
- Remember that you are not God, and therefore you don’t get to determine who is deserving of forgiveness.
- Forgive yourself.
Forgiving is not weak nor is it giving up. It’s a sign of strength and maturity, and it’s freeing. Also, forgiving and forgetting are very different. Just as getting over it and getting through it are different.
One final thought. If you are a person of faith, Matthew 6:14 – 15 is a reminder about the importance of having a spirit of forgiveness.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
What hurt or offense are you hanging on to? Who do you need to forgive?