How to forgive and find forgiveness in your heart when it’s the last thing you want to do. You might not want to, but here’s why you should and how it can help you.
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Forgiving someone is one of the hardest things to do. It is easy to grit your teeth and hold onto anger; it’s really hard to open your heart to forgiveness. I know it can feel unjust, unfair, and frustrating knowing that you are expected to forgive someone- sometimes without them even knowing it. I promise though, taking the high road is hard, but it is worth it.
It’s okay to feel anger. Anger is a normal reaction when you are wronged, and sometimes, someone does something that just makes you so, so angry. Maybe it is justified for a little, and helps the healing process, but anger should not be something you hold onto. I know that’s probably not what you want to hear when you’re angry; you might be thinking forgiveness is out of the question. You might want to get back at someone, hurt him or her in some way so they can know how you feel, publicly shame or call them out…but vengeance, or “getting even,” is not the right answer.
Maybe not everyone naturally has a temper, but I for one, know that I can be strong-headed and hold a grudge like no other. It has taken me a lot of trial and error, and a lot of really deep breaths, to finally start to understand what it means to forgive. The freedom I have experienced after realizing that holding onto anger does no good is, wow, unbelievably uplifting. Seriously, holding onto anger does no good…if anything, it is just pleasing the other person and the stress of it causes wrinkles and gray hair…do you want to let anger do that to you? No. Do you want bitterness to rule your life? No! Don’t let anger get the best of you. Don’t let it. Forgiving someone isn’t about whether they deserve it or not, it isn’t about setting them free- it’s about setting you free.
Forgiveness starts somewhere, and it’s okay if it’s in small steps. Especially in those times when you are really, really angry. I believe it helps immensely to just take a step back, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Pray to God to allow you to find forgiveness in your heart and to remind you that it is not your job to hold anger against someone or to punish them. As they say: Let go and Let God. Having a forgiving heart is truly freeing and it saves so much time and energy that you could be spending feeling joy or gratitude. You should get excited knowing that you don’t have to have that anger anymore and that you can let it go and move on with your life! It doesn’t matter what that person thinks or if that person knows you have. It doesn’t matter if that person still thinks they are “winning.” If you are being the bigger person, God knows, and that’s what matters in the end. Being able to forgive someone, to truly forgive someone, is so empowering.
Don’t get me wrong though, the goal of forgiveness is not to act better than someone else, or to be high and mighty in our forgiveness. Aside from forgiving someone for our own sake, more importantly, it is God’s will that we forgive others. He tells us to spread peace and resolve conflict, not start it. God has shown us grace and mercy over and over again, even in our lowest times. So who are we to think we are justified to hold anger against someone else who is ultimately of equal value in His eyes? We have to love even our enemies. To be honest, they are probably the people who need it most. Pray for them. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. I know that might be a tough pill to swallow when you’re upset, but I promise it does get easier with time. You don’t have to become best friends with them, or allow them to hurt you again, but God is merciful to us even when we don’t deserve it, and if we strive to be more like Him, and better Christians, then we too, have to forgive.
Forgiving others truly is a learning curve for most people with a pulse, but close your eyes, take another deep breath, smile…it feels better to just let it go.
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