If you have been on this earth more than 10 years you have had to forgive someone for something. Am I right?? Maybe that realization didn’t even take that long, but whatever the case, most people find it hard to forgive others. Forgiving big things or small things is hard, it just is. We don’t want to. We reason, “why should I have to forgive someone who wronged me?”
The reality is that we do have to forgive others; others who have hurt us, cheated on us, lied about us, taken something from us, the list is endless. Why? Because in the long run unforgiveness hurts us.
The Bible tells us in Matt 6:14, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your father in heaven will also forgive you (The Complete Jewish Bible). Our forgiveness by God is linked to our forgiving others. That hardly seems fair, does it? We are being forced to forgive so that we can be forgiven, is that it? Yes, that is the message. What if I don’t believe in God, the Bible and all that holier-than-thou stuff? Forgiving others still works in our favor, so there is really no excuse not to forgive.
You see, it’s pretty simple really. Forgiveness benefits us more than the one(s) being forgiven. If we choose not to forgive the seed of bitterness takes root in our hearts, the center of our being, and it grows there unseen, unfelt, until its very presence begins to affect every area of our lives. The tendrils of bitterness wrap around our hearts, it’s thorns pierce our tender spirits, and over time the wounds scar and harden our hearts. Our attitudes change toward others, toward ourselves, and toward life. Hope is replaced with despair, positive thoughts morph to the negative, and in a short time we have stopped living life, absorbed in the transgression and our feelings toward the ones who hurt us. Medicine has noted that unforgiveness often leads to depression, anger, anxiety, affects our immune system and overall health. Life is hard enough. I don’t need anything in my life that depletes my energy and makes me sick mentally or physically!
I have watched unforgiveness and bitterness consume people; it’s not a pretty sight. And there is nothing we can do to help the one being eaten up by unforgiveness if that person chooses to embrace the wounds. Forgiveness is a choice; so is unforgiveness.
Forgiveness is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t progress in a neat, clean line from unforgiveness to forgiveness. Some days it is two steps forward and one step back. It takes time, and work. Forgiveness is a decision; an act of the will. Forgiveness is not a feeling. Feeling differently toward the transgressor may happen at some point, but feelings are fickle. We cannot afford to base forgiveness on feelings.
So far the picture I’m painting is rather bleak and dark, isn’t it? No worries, it’s going to get better! Hang with me and in the next blog we will walk thru the process. Maybe, just maybe, the picture will brighten a bit!