During our lifetimes as we interact with others, inevitably we will anger someone, and someone will invariably anger or hurt us. Intentionally or not, it happens; a fact of life. Forgiveness can and will be elusive and tricky. You may think you have forgiven someone their wrongs, or convinced yourself that you have forgiven them, but over time you will find yourself bitter and resentful. You have not let go of the hurt and anger. You have merely buried it. Over time it grows into a cancerous knot in your stomach that boils over into a roiling cauldron of anger and hate. You build walls. You erect massive structures of resentment against the outside world, keeping you safe within its solitude.
When someone has a drinking problem or abuses drugs, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. When it comes to forgiveness, one must search the depths of their soul in order to find that spur that keeps poking at you, tightening your grasp on those feelings of resentment. Why have you held on to them? What purpose does it serve to expend energy and time holding on to the past? The past is simply that, gone. Done. Over. Let Go.
True forgiveness requires love. Love, as in ‘Love Thy Neighbor’. When you let go of those feelings that you have held on to, anger, hurt, maybe grief, resentment, you are free to love. You are not burdened by carrying the weight of those negative emotions.
Sometimes, letting go hurts, and the hurt is deep. Emotional scars take time to heal. Sometimes a lifetime. What if the person that affronted or hurt you was a family member? This can often lead to serious emotional detachment. You may want to bury the feelings and act as if nothing has happened, just to keep peace in the family. The technical term for doing this is ‘Time Bomb’. Buried feelings always surface in an eruptive and violent matter. Recall Mt. St. Helen’s in the 1980’s? It won’t be pretty.
These buried emotions must be confronted. Be an adult. Be the bigger person. Talk the problems out. Employ another family member as a mediator of necessary. Do not begrudge a family member, reconciliation should be the first priority. You may hate them in the beginning, but at the end, you will find a hole in yourself that cannot be filled.
In the end, the example that Jesus set as he hung on the Cross, His life ebbing away. “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” Forgive them, Jesus said. Forgive those who drove the nails into my palms and feet. Forgive the man who pierced my side. Forgive them, Father those who spit on me and mocked me, those who mocked You, Father. Forgive them. If Jesus can utter this prayer for his enemies, can we not likewise offer forgiveness to others who have wronged us?
Ten Verses to help you get started.
The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression. – Proverbs 19:11
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:35-36
But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. – Matthew 5:39
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. That you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? – Matthew 5:44-46
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” – Luke 6:37
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven – Matthew 18:21-22
So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” – Luke 17:3-4
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you – Ephesians 4:32
Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; – Proverbs 24:17
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. – Colossians 3:13
- Free to Forgive – A One-Way Ticket (polamuzyka.wordpress.com)
- Healing with forgiveness (rosewalto.wordpress.com)
- This Is A Hard Saying: The Bible on Forgiveness (traditionalchristianity.wordpress.com)