Everyone has been hurt at times by the actions or words of someone else. Most of those hurts will come from people we love and supposedly love us. When family, friends or relationships we value cause the hurt, it is even more painful. When those hurts go unresolved they can create a wound that leaves lasting feelings of anger, bitterness, stress and even a desire for vengeance.
I have family members that can carry a grudge for a lifetime. It seems to be in their DNA. I have one family member that has been angry at me for fifteen years simply because I hold a different view or opinion than she does.
Forgiveness is not just a Christian act, it is a gift of love that God gave to us in creation. Forgiveness allows the ability to let go of our hurts, anger, resentment and revenge; to forgive and move forward with our lives. Of course we see it in what God did for us, in giving Himself so that we could be forgiven.
When we are unwilling to practice forgiveness there is a price. That price isn’t just spiritual, it is also physical and emotional. Often times that price comes with high blood pressure, stress, unhappiness, isolation, depression and even sometimes a compromised immune system. Bitterness has a cost!
Spiritually, being unforgiving can cost us our soul. Remember the Lord’s prayer? “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9) Did you see it? Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Forgiveness is the decision to let go of the wrong we have been done. To let go of the resentment and the feelings of wanting revenge. When we are willing to “let go” we are set free from the bitterness and pain. We may never forget what has happened, but we are no longer a prisoner of that past event. When we “let go” we may even begin to feel empathy and compassion toward the one that hurt us. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we deny the truth or the others person’s responsibility in the pain or even minimize the injustice. Forgiveness simply helps us to move on with life.
Forgiveness is a commitment to God and ourselves to change. It is not necessarily a one time act, it is a process that is ongoing. It allows us to stop playing the role of a victim and take control back. It is empowering. It is the best gift we can give ourselves.