“Forgiveness” by Abby Williams
A couple years ago, someone I cared about hurt my heart. During a time of disagreement, they lashed out with their words…calling me names, belittling my faith, and even going as far to say they’d hope I would die.
I certainly hope and pray you never have to go through a relationship struggle like that, but unfortunately many can probably recall a similar situation in their life. When we are hurt by someone, the way we react and the way we choose to move forward is something important to consider. Though immediately after this situation all I wanted to do was retreat and lick my wounds, I soon knew that there was something bigger that God was putting on my heart. I knew I needed to forgive.
Forgiveness…something we know we should do, but it can be so difficult. When someone sins against us, hurts or wrongs us, we are often quick to feel a whole list of emotions that are nowhere near that of forgiveness. We may feel betrayed, angry, bitter, resentful and much more. And though these negative feelings eat away at our heart, the Lord has given us direction and guidance on how to proceed.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ God forgave you.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
I, even I, am He who blots out your transgression for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.
Did you notice the common thread amongst these verses? “Just as the Lord forgave you.” Friends, we are all sinners in great need of forgiveness from our Heavenly Father. Though we sin daily, the Lord’s grace is abundant and He has given us the beautiful gift of forgiveness. If the Lord can forgive us for our sins, promising us eternity with Him, shouldn’t we then try to forgive those here on earth who have sinned against us?
Forgiveness is no easy task; it is difficult and uncomfortable. Dr. Frank Minirth has stated, “Human power alone is not sufficient to reach full forgiveness. There is an element of forgiveness that is divine. It cannot be reached without God.” If we ask God to help us in our efforts to forgive, He can give us the strength and support we need.
Do you have someone you need to forgive? Reflect on these five steps, R-E-A-C-H, to help you work through the process of forgiveness, from The Handbook of Forgiveness by Everett Worthington Jr.
Recall the Hurt
- Though it is sometimes painful and difficult, it is necessary to recall the hurt.
- Journaling can be a great way to work through the hurt.
- You can write a letter to the offender, but do not mail it.
Empathize with the Person
- Write a letter as if you were the offender. Write about thoughts, feelings, insights, and pressures.
Altruistic Gift of Forgiveness
- Reflect on a time when you did something wrong and were forgiven; reflect on the guilt you felt and how it felt to be forgiven. Would you like to share that gift of forgiveness with the person who hurt you?
Commit Publicly to Forgive
- Tell your family and friends about your decision to forgive. This will help keep you accountable to your decision to forgive the transgressor.
- Write a certificate or letter of forgiveness stating that you will not dwell on the wrongs done to you anymore; do not send it. This outward expression will help you remember that you have forgiven and are freed from the pain of “unforgiveness”.
Hold on to Forgiveness
- Even when doubts arise, hold onto forgiveness.
- Makes “Stones of Remembrance” to help you remember the day you set your offender free.
- Remember to forget. Though you may never really forget the offense, you can remember that you forgave.
Though the process of forgiveness is no easy feat, we have been commanded by God to forgive others. Turn to Him for your strength and pray for Him to help your heart as you seek to forgive those who have hurt you. What a blessing it is to be considered forgiven and set free by our Heavenly Father! Let us share that gift with others.
Additional resources on forgiveness:
- Total Forgiveness, by R. T. Kendal
- Handbook of Forgiveness, by Everett Worthington Jr.