Setting Our Hearts Free
Life is an adventure in forgiveness.
Forgiveness. A word that is a whole lot easier to say than it is to do. But do it we must for many reasons….the least of which is that it is a therapeutic mental, emotional and spiritual cleansing of our soul. Letting go of grudges and bitterness allows us to make way for compassion, kindness and peace, which is necessary if we are to become not just content in our interpersonal relationships but also in our spiritual relationship with God. It is, after all, God’s command that we forgive. In Colossians 3:13 (NIV), we are told, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
There are some specific components to forgiveness. But if you choose to think of them simply as the ingredients which, when added together in the right order, will create a delicious and wonderful dish, they are easy to remember!
- You do have a right to feel hurt or betrayed and pretending that the hurt didn’t happen, does not work! It is a natural response and to suppress it can do more harm than good.
- Our first response is often anger and the need for revenge. But we must forget and forgo the temptation to be vengeful. That kind of thinking only hurts us more. AND it seldom, if ever, hurts the person who caused us pain in the first place!
- Remember that forgiveness means taking control of your own feelings and then taking positive steps. We can not always control how we feel but we can control what we do with those feelings as they relates to both ourselves and others!
- Forgiving someone does not automatically mean you will regain trust in them. However, it is a first step in allowing them the opportunity to regain that trust by their acceptance of our forgiveness and then making amends for their behavior. Allow yourself the time you need to feel pain. Just as there is a grieving period when we lose a loved one, so must there be a time of mourning when we are hurt. The amount of time varies depending on the hurt and our response to it, but then reaching the stage of forgiveness releases those demons that will haunt us if we do not forgive!
- Allow yourself the time you need to feel pain. Just as there is a grieving period when we lose a loved one, so must there be a time of mourning when we are hurt. The amount of time varies depending on the hurt and our response to it, but then reaching the stage of forgiveness releases those demons that will haunt us if we do not forgive!
- Not everyone will make those amends. Remember that it is their decision on what steps they will choose to take…. indeed, if any…. to rebuild what was lost. What forgiveness does is to free our own heart and in doing so, allow us to move forward with our own lives. Sometimes we must view those hurts as a learning experience and then let go of what may well be a toxic relationship!
Forgiveness is not easy, and as we can see, it is never accomplished in a single step. It is a conscious decision we must make over and over again throughout our entire lifetime. But we will know when we have succeeded because our hearts will tell us when the oppressive burden it carried is lifted. And amazingly, once it does, we realize that it is we who reap the benefits and the rewards of forgiveness! Lewis Benedictus Smedes explained it beautifully in his book, “Forgive and Forget”. Mr. Smedes, a renowned Christian author, ethicist, and theologian in the Reformed tradition, was a professor of theology and ethics for twenty-five years at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. When asked about forgiveness, he explained, “When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.”
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? “Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
Copyright © 2011-2014 “MandysPath”