“One of the Hardest Things”
~ by Tammy Hudson
Forgiveness is probably one of the hardest things we will ever have to do. The thought of forgiving someone who has truly hurt us seems almost unbearable. Yet, the burden of carrying around the bitterness and resentments will harm us more throughout our lives. We stay spiritually connected through our anger, like being shackled together forever. Unless we learn how to forgive, the bitterness stays in our hearts and can actually be the root of dis-ease. “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matthew 6:14 NIV).
Forgiveness is the warm water needed to melt the ice of bitterness and resentment. Imagine what it feels like when we are sick with the flu and chills flood our bodies and we step into a warm bath and let the water wrap around us like a protective cocoon. That is what Jesus wants to do for us. He is the warm water. He has forgiven us of all our sins, but then he says we must forgive others in the same way He forgave us. The Bible says, “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 NIV). Jesus does not tell us that this is easy, only that this is what we must do.
I spent my entire life angry and resentful at my dad. I truly believed that many of my problems were because of my relationship with him, and I felt like a victim. I was stuck in my own self-pity, and I could not move forward. There is a surrender that needs to take place in order to truly forgive. Imagine being in the boxing ring with the person you need to forgive, but you are continually beating each other up because that is what it really feels like deep in our heart. We have to surrender the fight, and raise our hands in the air. “I give up, Jesus. I can’t do this fight anymore, please take this from me.”
The surrender is really a willingness to ‘let go’ of the past. We can work on forgiveness one person at a time, or we can just do blanket forgiveness. We may have to forgive over and over again, but that is what God does for us too. We are building new spiritual muscles. “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 17:4 NIV).
Eventually, I had to look at my part in the relationship, and see where I was wrong, or what I could have done different. I also had to learn to have compassion for him and see him as a small child. I prayed for God to continue to soften my heart, but I did not do this alone. It was suggested that I pray for him everyday, to have everything I wanted, so I began to pray for peace, love, health, and prosperity.
It is amazing how taking all my pain to God and asking for Him to help me to heal, and then taking the action to pray for my dad everyday, began to soften my heart. As I began to change my attitude towards my dad, he began to change. Eventually, I could see that he had been uncomfortable around me also. God began to help me have empathy for him. The process can be slow, at times, but the changes are nothing short of a miracle. My heart feels free today from this burden I carried for so many years. Forgiveness is not about letting someone off the hook for harm they have caused you. It is about turning to God and letting Him take care of it.
A Forgiveness Prayer by Stormie Omartian from A Book of Prayer:
“Lord, help me to forgive others. If I have any anger, bitterness, resentment, or
unforgiveness that I am not recognizing, reveal it to me and I will confess it to
You as sin. Specifically, I ask You to help me fully forgive (name anyone you
feel you need to forgive). Make me to understand the depth of Your forgiveness
toward me so that I won’t hold back forgiveness from others. I realize that my
forgiving someone doesn’t make them right; it makes me free. I also realize that
You are the only one who knows the whole story, and You will see justice done.”
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
~ By Tammy Hudson