Have you ever been so wounded or abused by someone whom you swore you would never forgive them?
After talking with a close friend of mine recently, I was thinking about our conversation. Anna (not her real name) is healing from a tragic childhood abuse of the worst kind. Over the past year, she and I have become very close as I have helped her deal with this horrible pain that keeps rearing its ugly head in her life.
Recently, a good friend of Anna’s almost died; Anna was very distraught about her friend. This friend has reached out to Anna just a few months ago. I think it would be good for Anna to work on building some friendships that she has cut off over the years. She fears letting others into her world, because they may hurt her. She has been betrayed by two very close friends. I mentioned not everyone wants to hurt her, and that she is missing out on the friendship and love of others. However, they are missing out on what she can offer them as well. As I was mulling over her fears one day, and through some reading and praying I realized a missing link in Anna’s healing and seeking friendships. Forgiveness . . .
She struggles to forgive the monster who stole her childhood and innocence. I can completely understand. Who would not? However, he is stealing her life now, and he is deceased. She is afraid to live. Her pain doesn’t stop with this one person it seeps into all her relationships. She is on a journey of healing, and will have a story to share with others. There are so many people out there just like her who nobody knows the hell they are living in. She will be their voice one day. God has a plan and a purpose for her, as He does for each of His children.
Here is the connection I made for my friend to complete her healing. She needs to forgive the monster. Not because he deserves it. Not because he is dead. We forgive, because God has called us to forgive everyone as He has forgiven us (Eph 4:32). This will not happen in a moment, but will take time to peel back the layers of pain, grief and sorrow by releasing it to God. Somehow God has designed it when we quit clutching our pain and forgive those who hurt us then our heart is open to love and forgive others. You see my friend is clutching her pain tightly, and has for so long that it hurts to even look at it. Forgiveness looks impossible, because it has become a part of her like having a permanent scar from a gash 20 years ago, but the pain does not go away. However, God has promised us that if we make the decision to forgive – EVEN if the person NEVER asks for it – He will complete the healing process for us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Will it be easy? No. Will it be worth it? Resoundingly YES! Ask anyone who has forgiven the murderer of their child, the cheating wife or husband, the prodigal son, or the betraying friend, they would tell you the same. It is hard to describe what God does in your heart when you are obedient to forgive. You are able to look at the pain, and not feel the deep wound anymore. The anger is washed away. Joy and love take up residence where all the poison used to reside. You make room for God to fill your heart with His love that spills over into others even the one that has hurt you the most.
For me, I have someone whom I forgave for a horrible thing they did to me a long time ago. I now just feel sorry for them. To be honest, I don’t feel a gush of love for them, but I love them as a part of God’s creation. I don’t know if they have Christ or not. If they do not have the love of Christ in them, they are missing out on so much life!
So Hard to Believe
Corrie ten Boom had a similar excruciating painful experience as my friend. She and her family were severely abused in a German Nazi Concentration Camp. She watched her sister starve to death days before they received freedom. Her family was put in a prison camp for hiding Jews from Hitler’s regime. After her release, and in the midst of healing from all the torture, she spoke at a meeting in Munich, Germany about what she had been through in the camps and about God’s forgiveness.
Afterwards, a former guard came up to her, and said that he had become a Christian recently, and he wanted to personally ask her forgiveness. She remembered him. She remembered being paraded by him naked. He stuck his hand out in an offering of peace and forgiveness. It was all she could do to shake his hand. She knew that she should, but she had this internal battle raging. She finally extended her hand out to shake his and when she did, she could feel the power and presences of God move from her shoulder down to where her hand met his. She had this overwhelming sense of love for the man. The forgiving power of God overwhelmed her. You see she stopped clutching her pain, and could forgive and love through the power of God.
Forgiveness Is . . .
Forgiveness is more about letting go of our right to be hurt, than it is freeing the other person from their responsibility. Forgiveness frees us to love others more deeply. I know it is hard, because there are times that I struggle with it too. When you are repeatedly hurt by the same person for the same thing over and over again, you want to curl up in your corner to have your pain party. Although, that is not what God designed us to do. Unforgiveness holds us in bondage and keeps us from the pure love that God has for us and the love we could share with others. Forgiveness is the key to get out of bondage.
Is there someone you need to forgive today? Maybe you need to forgive yourself and allow God to heal you. We are to be responsible for own actions, but that does not mean we drag that mistake, sin, or pain with us for the rest of our life as penance. This is the beauty of God’s design. His mercy and grace wash away our sin and our pain to open our hearts to be filled with His love. I pray that you allow Him today. Forgive as you have been forgiven by the Almighty Savior and Friend. He will flood you with His love.
This verse below became real to me during a particularly difficult time in my marriage. God revealed to me that He had forgiven me and I needed to forgive my husband just like He forgives me. Talk about a spiritual 2 x 4!