You're NOT created to be STUCK.
YOU'RE CREATED TO MOVE!
Ready to move away from a self-defeating mindset and move towards all God has for you in life, love, and purpose?
Do you find yourself:
Not feeling good enough - like you'll never measure up?
Constantly stuck with the same struggles in life?
Confused with knowing your value and who you truly are?
Wondering if whether or not you're worth it?
At your wit's end and ready to just give up?
13 Secrets: What It Means To Forgive And Be Free
Forgiving someone who deeply hurt us can feel like trying to scale a wall that’s just simply not possible.
No way! I am NOT going to do that!
Even considering it, makes us feel sick to our stomach. Depending on how close the relationship is, the wound can feel too deep to just simply “let it go”.
In my last post, I talked about how to forgive the one you love from broken promises. In this post, I want to talk about what it really means to forgive and what it doesn’t mean.
I think the reason we withhold forgiveness and therefore miss out on all of its benefits, is because we don’t truly understand what forgiveness is. We think we do, but we really don’t.
The truth about forgiveness is that it’s NOT about the person who hurt us nor is it for their benefit. It’s for our benefit and our freedom.
Let’s dive into these 13 Secrets and discover what it really means to forgive so we can be free. This isn’t an exhaustive list – but it’s the truths I can hold onto (without feeling sick to my stomach) to help me walk towards my own freedom that forgiveness offers:
Forgiveness is NOT about letting the offender off the hook
It’s about holding them accountable for their actions or lack of actions.
I love how Dr. M.K Strydom describes what it means to forgive another person. In her book, “Healing Begins With The Sanctification Of The Heart”, she says,
“When you’re forgiving others, you’re not letting them off the hook, you’re giving them over to God still wriggling on the hook! You are now off the hook.”
When I look at it this way, it’s as if I’m holding onto a fishing pole with the person and their offense hooked to my line. If I keep holding on, then I’m still hooked to the offense and all it offers: pain, fear, bitterness, and resentment. But if I chose to hand my fishing pole to God and let Him reel the person in and their offense, I am free to run towards my own healing. They can stay wriggling on God’s hook without me having to be there. 🙂
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting
I wish it was because memories can really tangle us up in our emotions and keep us stuck.
Neil T. Anderson, in “The Bondage Breaker” says,
We don’t heal in order to forgive – we forgive in order to heal.
We may never forget the memory, but if we give our pain-filled thoughts and emotions to God and let Him heal us, our brains have an amazing way of removing the sting of past offenses and their memories.
It takes time and effort to forgive and let go of the memories, but the benefit is our healing and freedom for our soul. The question we need to ask ourselves is: would we rather put in a big effort to walk towards our own healing and freedom or would we rather put in a big effort to hold onto offense and let it have dominion over our mind and emotions? Either way, we’re putting in a big effort. It boils down to which result do you want to receive? Freedom or pain?
Forgiveness is NOT saying,” It was okay or that it didn’t matter”
It did matter and it wasn’t okay. It matters to God very much!
“One day Jesus taught his disciples this: ‘Betrayals are inevitable, but great devastation will come to the one guilty of betraying others. It would be better for him to have a heavy boulder tied around his neck and be hurled into the deepest sea than to face the punishment of betraying one of my dear ones!’” Luke 17:1 – 3 TPT
The word betray, is skandalon in the greek. It means a stick for bait, a trap, a stumbling block, an offense.
When someone wounds us deeply, it causes us to stumble into our own sin. That’s why God doesn’t deal lightly with those who offend others. As one who is offended, the hard truth is that withholding forgiveness is a sin. Forgiveness is a command, not a suggestion. Based on this verse alone, I would say how we are offended matters very much to God.
Forgiveness is NOT a “quick-fix” to heal our wounds.
Wounds take time to heal and forgiveness is the path towards healing. Sometimes we want to hurry up and forgive so we can get out from underneath the pain that is mounting up in our hearts. But forgiving too quickly can sometimes cause us to miss other important steps in our healing process, like setting up boundaries.
Forgiving someone is NOT about the relationship going back to how it was.
It’s about establishing healthy boundaries. Boundaries are for our protection and if someone crosses over them, they will by default, face the consequences. According to Henry Cloud,
“Consequences are what change behavior.”
Forgiveness is NOT the same as trust.
We can forgive someone and still not trust them. For example, if you drive my car irresponsibly and destroy it, I can forgive you, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to turn around and give you my keys again any time soon. Trust has to be rebuilt and that takes time.
Forgiveness is NOT the same as reconciliation.
Similar to trust, I can forgive you but still chose to not reconcile and therefore end the relationship.
Forgiveness is about getting back our personal power by taking responsibility for ourselves.
The offense may not be our fault, but how we deal with it, is still our responsibility. For example, if I get hit by a car, it may not be my fault, but it’s still my responsibility to take the necessary steps for my healing and recovery. As in, it’s up to me to go to the doctor, do my part in self-care, rebuild muscles, etc.
Forgiveness is a choice.
It’s an act of our will. If we wait until we feel like forgiving, we will never get there. We will stay stuck in a cycle of pain and painful memories.
Forgiveness is a process.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Every time a memory comes up, we have a choice to make. We can either chose to focus on the painful memory and let it dominate our emotions, causing us to re-live the pain or we can choose to take the memory captive and hand it back over to God. #toughchoices
Forgiveness is getting out of God’s way and letting Him do what ONLY He can do.
By withholding forgiveness, we thwart God’s ability to work in another person’s life. It’s like holding onto the fishing pole with them on our hook versus handing them over to God with them on His hook.
Forgiveness is choosing not to hold another’s sin against them anymore.
This is a tough one – but if we truly let go and trust God to deal with things, then we no longer have anything to hold against them.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Cor. 13:5 NIV
Whether or not we reconcile, keeping a record of wrongs keeps us in bondage – not the other person. It does this by letting those memories run wild inside our thought life. It helps me when I visualize these thoughts as toddlers running around throwing a tantrum. I wouldn’t let my boys do that when they were little, so why should I let a record of wrongs do that in my mind?
Forgiveness is forgoing my “right” to get revenge.
Even if I have a “right” to get revenge based on the offense, by doing so, I’m putting myself above God. If I put myself in the role of judge and therefore extend punishment, I’m basically saying I don’t trust God to heal me nor do I trust Him to deal justly with the person who deeply hurt me.
Romans 12:19 says, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
One of my favorite stories of God’s revenge took place on the road to Damascus. This may not technically be a story of revenge, but God has been using it to help me see things the way He sees them.
Saul was a man who hated Christ followers. He persecuted them severely and was planning on arresting them in Damascus upon his arrival. While he was on his way, he had an encounter with Jesus. (See Acts 9). Jesus could have struck him down and got full revenge. He would’ve had every right to do so. But He has a different way of dealing with Saul’s offenses.
Instead of giving Saul what he deserved, Jesus changed his heart by giving him a burden that was in the polar opposite direction of what he used to do. Not only did he become a Christ follower himself, but he went on to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ! In addition, he wrote several letters to the early church which are now books in the New Testament that are still being used today to spread the love of Jesus!
Think about this with the person who has hurt you. What if the very thing they did against you was turned around and became a burden on their heart the compelled them to help others in the same way they once hurt you?
Would it change your perspective on letting go and letting God have His way in both your heart and the heart of the one who offended you?
As you gain a deeper understanding in what it means to forgive, I pray you will come to a place in your own journey where you’ll make the hard decisions to let go of the offenses that have wounded your heart so you can be free and run toward your own healing.
Leave the one who offended you on God’s hook and see what He can do!