I was sitting here with my most delicious cup of coffee thinking back over a couple of conversations. Here is what I've noticed as a pattern . . . .
When we have not forgiven and truly dealt with past hurts inflicted upon us by others, we talk about it all the time. It's an incident, or incidents, which for some has happened a very long time ago, yet it fills their minds and conversations today as though is were a recent occurrence.
Here's the thing, if we don't forgive and let it go, leave it in the past, not only does it weigh us down today, but we drag that offense into our futures where it affects everything we do, every relationship we have and takes us down into bitterness. That offense or hurt does not diminish in time, it grows and grows until one day it explodes out of all proportion hurting ourselves even more, and affecting those around us, breaking hearts and destroying relationships.
How incredibly sad that is. We've been given a most wonderful gift from God, called Forgiveness, but when we hurt that is sometimes the last thing we want to consider, when it is the first thing we ought to do.
I believe we have either been mis-taught about the value of forgiveness or have misunderstood God's gift of forgiveness, so allow me to share my view. I don't believe forgiveness is for the 'other' persons benefit as much as for our own.
Contrary to popular belief, forgiving 'them' does NOT let them off the hook for the hurt they inflicted upon us, they will still be held accountable for it . . . . Since we are all accountable for our own words and behaviours . . . . we must forgive them or we will be accountable for holding an offense. Thus, having done what we know to do, we leave 'them' to God for what they did.
Jesus said we ought to forgive 70 x 7 . . . . HUH??? I've thought about this a lot over the years and this is what I've come to believe this means. Take my former marriage, it lasted 25 years and there were a lot of hurts for me in those years (please note I'm talking about my side, I'm sure he has his side of which I cannot speak of) which built up into quite a lot of undealt pain. When I began the road of recovery, I began forgiving him for each memory that came up which caused me pain. I refer to it as the 'sting' of pain. Each time I felt that sting, I would pray, "Father I choose to forgive 'him' for . . . . ", and would let it go trusting God to cleanse the wound. But, next thing I know the memory would be triggered by something and I would feel the sting again. So I forgave again for the same thing. This pattern was repeated for each memory over and over until there was no more pain upon remembrance of the incident.
That's a LOT of forgiveness!!! It took me 8 years to finally get the sting out of every memory of bad stuff between us, but I know it's over. I can recount any one of those memories now and it is just a thing that happened, there is no pain involved any longer. Hallelujah and thank You God!
But here's another thing, forgiveness has got to become a lifestyle for us. Just because the past has been dealt with between him and I doesn't mean he has no power to inflict fresh hurt by today's behaviours, he does. So when I feel a fresh sting of pain, I have got to be vigilant in choosing to forgive him for the fresh occurrence. However, he does not have the power to hurt me as my X-husband any longer, he has become like any other person who has the ability to hurt me today ~ cool eh? The past has been laid to rest and I live in today.
I don't know if sharing this journey of forgiveness helps you in your own situation, but I hope that whatever past hurts litter your life, you can find freedom through the gift of forgiveness.
I wrote a piece on forgiveness which I'll post next. It's called The Greatest Apology Ever . . . . I hope you accept the challenge of letting God free you up through forgiving others. It really is worth the struggle and work involved in recalling and dumping each hurt. The freedom to enjoy life anew is tangible and oh so good!
Blessings to you on your Journey of leaving the past in the past, walking into the future unencumbered and free.