Sep 17, 2017

3 Lies About Forgiveness...

When we experience bad things (especially traumatic things), forgiveness is generally nowhere near the center of our thoughts...

I myself had experienced abuse and wounds throughout childhood and my teen years before finally getting a healthy perspective on what biblical forgiveness looked like and what the purpose of it actually was. Today I'd like to inspect 3 of the most common misconceptions about forgiveness that I have come across. 

Lie #1: If I forgive them, that means I'm condoning what they did.

This is a big one that holds us back from forgiving those that hurt or wrong us and it is absolutely NOT true! Forgiving someone is way more about YOUR well-being than about letting them off the hook. 

The dictionary defines the word "forgive" as stopping the feelings of anger or resentment... so to take it a step further, I'd define it as a way to stop ruminating over and making yourself feel miserable about what happened. 

I'm not saying you can just "get over it" - it's going to be a very individual and personal journey to get to a place where you can know you've handed it all over to God and are no longer deeply wounded at the thought of it... this is going to look different for everyone and will likely not be an overnight fix. 

Forgiving someone is like taking your hands off someone's throat and trusting God with their judgment. You give it all to God so that the person that hurt you no longer has such control over your thoughts or emotions. The Word says in 1 Peter 5:7 to "Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."

Lie #2: I can only forgive someone if they genuinely apologize and beg for my forgiveness.

Let me start this one off by saying that you 100% deserve to receive an apology, but often times this is wishful thinking and a tactic of the enemy to keep us from ever experiencing true peace. 

Ever heard the phrase "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison & hoping the other person dies?" It means that sometimes we think that by refusing to forgive someone, we're causing them pain or getting back at them somehow... but unfortunately what is more often the case is that they could care less about how we feel about them and are just going on with life. We are the only ones suffering.

In the case of abuse - it's likely not even safe for you to interact with that person at all. So, the hope of them approaching you and apologizing in order to mend your relationship is near impossible... it's something that needs to be done between you and God. 

Luke 6:36 reminds us to "Be merciful, just as our Father is merciful." It never sat well with me that God would forgive truly awful people like murderers or those that could hurt children, but at the same time (after I became a parent) I started wondering how I'd feel if one of my kids went down a bad path and then got back onto the right path? Would I scoff at them or be supremely happy? I'd be thrilled that they had changed! It's not His goal for any of His sheep to be lost. His hope is for everyone to eventually come to repentance and to spend eternity with Him, but if they don't - He's the final judge.

Lie #3: If I forgive, that'll just give them the ok to keep hurting me.

Again, this is the reason why we don't need to forgive face to face. If someone that has no desire to change knows that you'll just forgive them no matter what, maybe that'll just encourage them to keep doing what they've always done (side note: or it could spur them on toward Christ). 

Forgiveness, unfortunately, is often not a one time thing. Remember Jesus teaching in the Bible to forgive 70 xs 7 times? He was saying we need to forgive and keep on forgiving. 

Practically speaking, this could look like 1 really bad situation happening and after forgiving them, you need to keep speaking out that you have forgiven them whenever it comes to mind so that you don't spiral back into the pain... or it could be someone that's still in your life (like a family member) that continually hurts you and so you choose to forgive them each time they hurt you so you aren't bitter or depressed or crippled by their ungodly behavior.

In closing, I want to point out that I understand what it feels like to be abused, taken advantage of, made fun of, and manipulated. I didn't come by this view easily, but I eventually realized that it was the best route to experience true peace. 

In Isaiah 9:6 God is referenced as our "...Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" so we can trust that He will help us get through any situation and can also redeem all our hard times in life by strengthening us or by teaching us how to help others that have been through something similar.   

I'll never believe that it is God's will for bad things to happen in our lives, so if you're angry with God for what has happened to you - this thought is for you:

God's original plan for mankind was perfect and free of sin. The original sin (made by mankind) in the garden is what brought sin and evil to the world. God gives us free-will so that we can freely love Him, but that also means we can freely reject Him and hurt others. True love isn't love if it is forced. 

Please know that He loves you and that He has never left your side. The 1 place that is free from all sorrow and pain is Heaven. Our time on earth, even if we live to be 100, will be like a blink in the span of eternity once we're in Heaven so don't give up! God has a purpose for your life and He is incredible at making broken things beautiful.  

If we believe in Jesus, repent (turn away from) our sin, and seek to follow Him with all our hearts we will one day spend eternity with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit as well as those that have gone before us.  Amen

(Note: If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, rage, or anything else that is negatively affecting your life and you need more help - please prayerfully consider seeking a pastor, doctor, and/or psychologist that can shoulder this burden alongside you until you're in a stronger place to get through it. I personally took medication for anxiety/depression for years and believe that God can use multiple avenues to help you experience true freedom. There's no shame in it - just don't try to get through it alone. I'm praying for you!) 

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