Forgiveness happened in layers for me because I didn’t know it was a process I needed to go through. When reconciliation with my father began in 2001, it was as if I cut an onion.
I told my dad the things he had done to hurt me. He apologized and said that he never meant to. I believed him, and forgave him… I thought. Over the course of many years I kept unearthing things I had not dealt with, or known I needed to.
I had no idea that with each layer my eyes would burn with tears more than it had during the previous layer. I thought wanting to forgive and saying, “I forgive you,” was all I needed to do, but what do you do when your heart won’t listen to what your mouth said?
Saying the words hadn’t healed me. Each time we experienced another level of intimacy in our father/daughter relationship, I realized I still had trust issues, some anger, and I still felt like blaming him sometimes. Things got better progressively, and on the surface I seemed fine. I didn’t understand it then, but I had residual feelings of hurt deep down inside because I was not yet finished with the process of forgiveness. I wouldn’t peel back the last layer until 2013.
If you can successfully make it through the steps to forgiveness, you can be free from anger and bitterness.
I can’t tell you how precious it is to experience the freedom of forgiveness!
Step 1 – Identify the infraction
Sometimes we can’t get to the point of forgiveness because we haven’t even acknowledged the infraction. It’s like little kids. A little boy pushed my daughter once. He was made to say sorry by his parents, and baby girl’s response was, “It’s okay.” But it’s not okay to shove someone.
Sometimes when we are hurt we tell ourselves, “It’s okay. It wasn’t that bad. Don’t make a big deal out of it,” but we should acknowledge what happened, why it was wrong, and what we didn’t like about it.
Step 2 – Praying about the situation, for your healing, and for the perp (You should do this all throughout the process)
Praying for the situation means saying, “God, though I was hurt or mistreated, I want You to get glory from this situation. I place myself on the back burner and say have your way God, so that all parties involved and those looking on would be saved because of how this turns out.” Those sentiments are far from easy to exhibit, but when we get in a mindset that enables us to search for God’s glory no matter the situation, we become the best funnels for God’s almighty power.
Of course we need to pray for healing. We need to ask God to hold our hearts in His hands and apply that soothing salve so we will no longer burn with anger or have anxiety flare ups.
When we pray for the offender, not on them, but for them, God shows us why He loves them… in spite of what they did to us. We begin to see things from heaven’s vantage point. When we see His in spite of love for them, we are reminded that He has to love us in spite of our dirt as well.
This takes us off the high pedestal that dictates that forgiveness is for us, but not the next man. This is what really gets the wheels turning in the direction of forgiveness. Without a little bit of heaven, forgiveness is impossible!
Step 3 – Acknowledging the hurtful emotions
Some of us just like to shake it off when hurtful things are done to us because we don’t want to wallow in hurt. The only problem with that is that if we do not process what happened and how that made us feel, we can’t truly shake it off.
It is instead stored deep down inside, wreaking havoc on our internal organs (according to eastern medicine), waiting to rear its ugly head the next time that individual repeats the action or a similar situation presents itself. Then we explode or internalize more hurt.
The human mind was made with the need to bring closure to experiences in order to move on from them. If this does not happen, it is kept it in our current queue, rotating back and forth in our conscious and subconscious mind, causing behavioral patterns we may not even understand.
What we need to do is face the hurt, explore the emotions it evoked, deal with them accordingly, and ignore the urge to pretend we are too strong to have been hurt.
Come back on Thursday for the rest of the steps in the process. A brand new life awaits you on the other side of forgiveness.
Not forgiving someone for hurting you may be one of the most common barriers to faithful, successful, purposeful living. It is detrimental to personal, spiritual, and professional growth because it clogs you up.
It is also one of the stealthiest barriers because it is internal and often unseen, but insidious and destructive!
As I look back on my 13 year journey to forgiving my father for some of the hurts I experienced as a child and adolescent, I realize that God has been trying to bless me for so long, but there was no room for what He was offering. I was clogged up. The purpose was choked out of me by feelings of hurt and regret.
Until we connect with purpose, that fulfilling success will never be experienced. We know this because we have all heard tales of fortune 500 CEO’s that are as unhappy as can be. Money, power, and worldly success aren’t the answers to the question about how to experience fulfillment. Purpose is.
Often we can’t find our purpose because it is buried under hurt, grudges, shame, regret, anger, and a host of other debilitating emotions.
I couldn’t understand the concept of giving someone something I didn’t think they deserved, or giving them a second chance to hurt me. It would take a long time before my perspective on this subject changed. It has, but if it hadn’t by now, one of the kids in the youth group at my church would have set me straight when we recently discussed forgiveness.
“You can’t truly understand forgiveness until you have experienced it.” Wise words from a 12 year old. He got what it took me 13 adult years to figure out.
Until I experienced forgiveness in my relationship with my heavenly Father and came to really understand and appreciate it, I couldn’t offer it completely to anyone else. Until I saw how integral it was to my own survival, I couldn’t see why I should bless someone else with it. Until I felt gratitude for my own pardon, I would never seek to pardon another.
My journey to forgiving someone I loved took so long because it was tied to my FaithWalk. I had to truly see myself as an offender too. When I saw myself and what I deserved as a result of my sin, and understood that God gives me what I don’t deserve and keeps me from what I do deserve each and every day, I became full and running over with forgiveness. I wanted to offer it to everyone.
That’s when the most miraculous things began to happen. Clarity started rushing in. I began to hear God’s call on my life. I began to receive direction about how He wanted me to walk out my purpose. Now I know exactly what fulfilling my purpose in this season of my life looks like, and now I know fulfillment.
I have a lasting joy that no one, nor any situation can take away from me. I am happy because God wants to use me and now I know how.
It takes faith in God, not humans, to offer someone the type of forgiveness He offers you. It takes faith to place someone in the position to possibly hurt you again. It takes faith, but if you will believe, forgiveness will be the single most powerful and freeing breakthrough you will ever experience! When you offer forgiveness to others, you in turn unclog your own life. If you haven’t already… leap over one of the tallest barriers to your success today!
Last Tuesday we looked at the power in prayer through the experience of Paul and Silas’s incarceration. I tried to move on, but God called me back to this story. He said, “Wait, there’s more.”
A rumbling shook the entire jail. The ground beneath Paul and Silas cracked violently. The prisoners screamed in fear of being swallowed by the earth. Below the din of fearful screams was heard a song. Paul and Silas had continued to sing.
When the earthquake stopped, shackles lay on the floor of every cell. The men stood in awe that they had survived and that they were free.
When the jailor arose from his sleep to find the doors opened, he pulled his sword to avoid the misery that losing all the inmates would bring. Somehow Paul knew what he was about to do and cried out, “Don’t do it! We are all here. You haven’t lost any of us!”
When the jailor checked and saw that everyone was accounted for, he knew something more powerful than himself was at work here. He instantly knew that Paul and Silas were legit, and so was there God!
This midnight prayer and praise service yielded many souls. You see, the inmates were freed during the earthquake, but it was more than physical freedom. It was soul, body, and mind freedom! They had listened to Paul and Silas sing and pray at midnight, then they watched their God respond in a most powerful way, so when it was time to leave, they were spell bound.
Instead of running off to be free from punishment, they stayed to be free from sin. They stayed to be free to be in relationship with the God of Paul and Silas.
The witness didn’t end there. The jailor and his entire family accepted Jesus Christ that night.
There is something powerful that God didn’t want me to miss. Your prayers and praise don’t just free you, but it frees anyone in the sphere of your influence.
Every prisoner under the sound of their voices were freed during their midnight prayer and praise service. Every door opened! Every chain fell off! At their prayers, the people around them were freed as well.
I don’t know how that hits you, but it hits me like a ton of bricks. The Bible shows us that when they were faced with unwarranted and undesirable circumstances, they kept their eyes on the prize. They prayed and as a result everyone around them was blessed by their prayers, praise, and faith.
The next day Paul and Silas were released without much ado. They had been flogged and sent to jail, not to rot, but to bring true freedom to the captives, to heal the broken hearted, to bring light to the darkest places, to replace ashes with crowns, mourning with gladness, and exchange clothes of despair with garments of praise! (Isaiah 61:1-3) They had been chosen to undergo a harsh experience so the glory of God could shine… even in the jailhouse.
We have the privilege and opportunity to partner with God to make His glory manifest to those we come across. Sometimes that takes us through being victimized or marginalized. Sometimes it is through a harsh or stressful experience that we must push in order to place God on Main Street to the saving of lost souls.
What if you are chosen to endure hardship for the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Will your faith hold like an anchor embedded in the Solid Rock? Or will you waver and withhold your praise, offering complaints instead? Will you set captives free with the words you utter? Can you pray and praise through, believing that nothing is by chance, and all is for the glory of God?