Forgiveness – it is the gift you give yourself.
That necklace you have worn around your neck, the choke-hold of hatred and resentment. If you let go, you will breathe deep – inhale peace. Bitterness is the bracelet you remove. And yet, how to get there? This bitterness like chains – chains that shackle wrists, not decorative at all.
How to remove this toxic jewelry? Exchange it for new jewelry.
Oh, to wear this jewelry now: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22 – 23.)
Forgiveness is imperative
Yet, we realize saying the words like a charm is not effective. Forgiveness is not magic. It is deliberate, and gut-wrenching.
And, following Jesus means forgiveness is imperative. We will have to forgive again and again. Seventy times seven.
At church we use a process called Restoration Prayer. And also a study called Freedom Sessions. Forgiveness is an important part of both models. These programs are sound, and practical. They are the basis of the following suggestions.
Willingness is a good beginning
1) Start with a willingness to forgive. Offer this simple prayer, “Lord, help me be willing to be willing to forgive.”
2) Then, invite the Holy Spirit who is our Teacher, Advocate, and Comforter to come. Ask Him to show us who we need to forgive. He is faithful and will do this. He longs for us to find freedom! So, quiet yourself before Him and listen. Write the names the Lord brings to mind.
3) Be specific about your pain. The circumstances that go with the names you have listed. Stay away from generalities. This process is painful, but please don’t be afraid. It is difficult to heal if you side-step the negative storm of emotion. It’s important to give yourself time and privacy for this.
The prayer and the process
4) Here is a recommended prayer: Lord, I forgive (name of the person), for (what they did, be specific here), it made me feel (name the feelings, why it hurt). Don’t hold back. Allow the anger or tears to come. It’s an important part of healing. Then repeat the same prayer for each offense.
5) Add God to your list – many of us are/or have been angry at God and blame Him for our circumstances. God knows our anger, and He is big enough to handle our doubts and fears. Enter into this dialogue with Him. It’s liberating and a door to sweeter intimacy with Him.
6) Forgive yourself. Let go of the grief, hurt and pain you have caused others. It is right to feel godly sorrow over our sin. It good to repent. But getting stuck in guilt only produces self-condemnation and is counter-productive. 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is gracious and He offers full forgiveness to you. Now it’s important forgive yourself.
7) Then release all the results to God. Realize that ‘forgiving others doesn’t change the past, it changes the future.’
Restoration and/or boundaries
To forgive the offender does not necessarily mean restoration of relationship. In an earlier post about boundaries, we discuss this: “When we forgive someone who has hurt us; we open our heart to the possibility of change. It frees us to love in a way that is liberating. Forgiveness gives us the power to look ahead—not to fixate on the past. But, it is important to remember – forgiveness does not mean giving the other person the right to continue to inflict pain. Forgiving someone does not always mean reconciliation. Sometimes it is not possible, or safe to do so.” Read the full post – https://judygibson.ca/creating-boundaries-dealing-with-difficult-people/.
Up the mountain
But, what happens when anger bubbles to the surface again? Or bitterness nips at your heels, and you think, “but, I forgave, why am going through this again?” It’s like peeling back the skin of an onion – one layer at a time. You are moving to a deeper level of forgiveness. Jesus knows, go to Him – lay it at the foot of the cross . And take heart my friend, you are not moving in circles that lead nowhere. You are travelling up the mountain, on your way to greater freedom.
Set your intention
So, “Set the compass of your soul towards forgiveness. It will help you find your way out of bitterness.”
And, remember He forgave us first, laid down His life. Eph. 1:7 tells us, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Oh, such grace.
We make this our goal – to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Eph. 4:32.
As we do this we live by His amazing grace.