Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of teachings and discussions about relationships, not just romantic ones but friendships as well. This has caused me to take a look at a lot of my relationships both past and present. The thing about relationships is that they don’t always go the way we’d like them to. A common reoccurring theme in mine was forgiveness. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a huge fan of that word. Because sometimes a simple “I’m sorry” just isn’t good enough. Or worse yet the apologies I never got but so desperately deserved. And yet despite this I’m expected to just forgive and pretend like it never happened? Cool.
But then you have the opposite choice. Unforgiveness. I heard a quote once that said that “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. Chances are that the person who wronged you is living their life with little or no concern about how much they hurt you. Maybe they said “sorry” and put it all behind them or maybe they didn’t apologize. Maybe they are oblivious to the fact that they hurt you or maybe they think that they were somehow right in doing so. Only God knows their true motives, but that doesn’t help the hurt that we feel.
It’s good to feel, it means you’re human, it means you have a heart. What isn’t good however is when we continue to feel those feelings over a long period of time or even a lifetime.
At that point the only person you are hurting is yourself. So by all means embrace the hurt, feel, have a nice cry (or scream), vent to someone, etc. But when that’s over with pick yourself off the floor, wipe your eyes, forgive and move forward. It’s a lot harder than it sounds, but it has to be done. Do it for yourself!
“But you don’t understand they messed up big time, I can’t forgive them! They don’t deserve my forgiveness!” As if your forgiveness is some holy grail, some hidden treasure reserved only for those who you deem worthy.
Let’s be real here, you are by birth a sinner. So am I. Are you familiar with what a sinner deserves? According to Romans 6: 23, the wages of sin are death. That’s what we deserve, death. But God by His magnificent grace picked you up out of your mess, made you His son/daughter and forgave you of everything you had done and will ever do. He forgave for you for things you haven’t even done yet! You didn’t deserve it, you will never deserve it. But aren’t you glad that God didn’t withhold His forgiveness from your unworthiness.
People like to talk a lot about Grace. I like to talk about grace, it blows my mind every time I think about it. We can write about grace, read about grace, shout it from the rooftops, make excuses about our behavior, etc. all day long. But yet we refuse to bestow that same grace to those around us? We say “yes, I did terrible things and God forgave me, but I can’t forgive them for what they did, they don’t deserve it.” Grace which was given to us freely is then locked away and the key thrown away. We assume the place of God in our lives and decide who gets grace and who doesn’t. That’s a scary thought, when we try to replace God because somehow we think that we know better. I’m sure glad that God doesn’t pick and choose who He forgives, because a lot of us probably wouldn’t make the cut. Because who of us is even worthy? Romans 3:10 says “No one is righteous–not even one.” Hmmm…it doesn’t sound like anyone is making the cut.
“But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” // Matthew 6:15
Ouch! Those aren’t my words those are from the Bible. Forgiveness isn’t an optional guideline, it’s a way of life. In order to be forgiven we have to forgive. Grace is free, yes, but it doesn’t end there. It is to be re-gifted not locked away. God has forgiven us of so much, but we in turn must forgive others. People are going to hurt you, they are going to let you down, they’re human. We live in a fallen world, full of sin and pain. The question is what are you going to do with the grace that He has given you. There is no freedom like forgiving the apologies that you never got, and unclenching the blade that we’ve held onto for so long. Sometimes that’s all you can do, just open your hand and hand it over to God. Quit carrying a burden that you weren’t meant to bear, if you were meant to bear it you would’ve been on that cross instead.
The process isn’t always an easy one, it will most likely take more than 24 hours. Depending on the level of hurt it could take months or more. But you have to start today! The longer you wait, the lest likely you are to do it, and the worse you hurt yourself. So make the choice to forgive, and ask your heavenly Father to take the burden from you, Psalm 55:22 “Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.”
Will that relationship be restored? Maybe, maybe not. You are only responsible for how you handle the situation. Forgiveness doesn’t always equal restoration. Some relationships are toxic and better left where they are, but forgiveness is essential to you moving on and forming healthy relationships. If we continue to carry the emotional baggage from each relationship into all of our new relationships we will continue to unpack those bags and continue the cycle. So leave the baggage behind, do not ask other people to pay the price for the pain that someone else has caused you. It will only hurt them and you will be left all alone each and every time. We weren’t made to carry the burdens of others, in fact we weren’t even meant to carry our own burdens, that’s why we have Jesus. Don’t expect from other people what only God can give.
So make the choice to forgive, unpack the baggage and walk away empty handed into your new relationships. That’s the only way that they will work and you can avoid vicious cycle of failed or unhealthy relationships.
Forgiveness is a free gift, and must in turn be given freely. I pray that somehow this will touch your heart, and open your eyes. It’s not always easy but the freedom you will feel in the end is incredible.
Colossians 3:13 NIV// Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.