Have you been deeply hurt by a close friend, your spouse, or even a family member? Perhaps this one time offense or repeated offenses have gone on without acknowledgement and your heart is simply tired of trying to maintain something that the other seems not to care about. We have to ask ourselves if being right is more important than doing what’s right. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you forget the wrongs that have occurred. Trust takes time. But making the choice to forgive will free you from all of the poison welling up in your mind and your heart. Unforgiveness is not an option if you want healing. Often, these wounds left unresolved create deeper anger turning into resentment and maybe even bitterness. Regardless of your attempts to resolve the issue, it continues on relentlessly sapping you of all joy and peace. None of us can live in constant turmoil. Choices have to be made for the benefit of all involved.
Relationships are the tool that God uses as an avenue to form our character and provide opportunity to extend sacrificial love. Love involves both pleasure and pain. Love pursues and believes the best in each other; both on the mountain top and in the valleys low. We are all constantly maintaining relations with others. Unless you are a bear in hibernation you are connecting with people everyday. Some interactions are at the surface level. For instance the cashier at the grocery store, neighbors, the post man and so forth. Then there are those you live and work with, interacting on a much deeper level.
It is inevitable for some type of small infractions to happen. Along the way a huge offense may occur and has the potential to destroy relationships. In marriage you have two sinners trying to live as one flesh. In friendship, we are giving and taking constantly. Extended family relations, new members to the clan, etc…There will be those moments when challenges enter in and love is truly tested. Evoking a response in you that clearly says you have violated my person. Some issues can easily and quickly be resolved while other offenses may seem small yet continue happening adding to the stress and discouragement.
Such was a time when I met with my mentor and accountability friend. I hadn’t yet shared some of the deep hurts I was experiencing within a fairly new friendship. We began with small talk and I could feel my heart thump and just about burst. I like to consider myself as a peacemaker. Confrontation is not my thing and I go to great lengths to keep the waters steady. But something was out of control in my life and I was unsure of how to find a resolution. I felt like I was on the losing end of the stick.
My friend sensed there was something pending that I wanted to share. I really didn’t want to involve anyone else in this affair. Yet I was running out of ideas and the channels I had already tried had failed. So I did what most people do. Suck it up and stuff it down. But time was not healing this deep hurt. Sensing I was holding back, my friend probed for a deeper and more meaningful dialog.
Oh, the flood of hurt and betrayal filled my heart and tears welled up in my eyes. Too many months of turmoil, hours of unnecessary finger pointing, sleepless nights and tears of hurt and anger that had literally wrenched my heart. As my friend listened intently she knew, heck I knew, that what was needed to become whole again was to release the infractions and forgive. Seeking reconciliation and extending forgiveness was the only way I would be free. To reopen this wound is scary but the hope of healing was far greater!
“From my distress I called upon the Lord. He answered me…The Lord is for me; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5-7
While not all attempts will prove successful it is important to remember that although you cannot force another to comply or understand, you are only responsible for your actions. If you want to be free of this inner turmoil, forgiveness isn’t an option. You simply have to choose it as the only option. When you take your eyes off of the other person and look up to God and all that He offers you in forgiveness your perspective changes. It’s not like you uncross your arms and all the hurt fades away. It takes a process, a very painful one. But God is patient and gentle with us. He knows and understands your pain. As He extends mercy to you, you also can see another’s failures or mistakes through the eyes of mercy.
Choosing to forgive is an act of faith. Trust God to change and heal your emotions.