If forgiveness is something we do for ourselves, why does it hurt to forgive another?
The question is, to forgive or not to forgive? We've all heard that forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. We hear it and it resonates with us mentally, but the message for some reason cannot make the six inch journey from our head to our heart. Every time we try, the mind seems to take over adding even more vivid details to the original offense. The offender eventually becomes an evil monster or an everlasting enemy. In our head, the decision not to forgive is justified and on some level we convince ourselves that this particular offense goes beyond what God requires us to forgive. The pain can become so deep that we become the offender's judge and jury. We sometimes render a life sentence of "not to forgive" the offender and they don't even know about it. Sadly, their offense continues to take up space in our heads and our hearts. We become bitter and allow the weeds of bitterness to stunt our growth spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally; therefore, I ask again … to forgive or not to forgive?
Oh, but wait, what about when we've made a mistake and we are the one seeking forgiveness? Where does the story we tell ourselves about our mistake come from, our head or our heart? More than likely this story comes from the heart because we understand why we made the mistake. We can also provide all of the extenuating circumstances that led to our offending someone and the reason why we should be forgiven, but for some reason, we struggle do this for others? Often because we stay in a place of anger and we feed it. This emotion makes us feel strong and powerful, it’s a more comfortable place to dwell. Unfortunately, we do not allow the natural healing process to take place. I often liken it to a literal cut on my finger. We are so wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14) that in 7-10 days that cut will automatically heal on its own. However, if I after a few days, notice it starts to heal and produce a scab and I pick at it every day until it is infected, I do not allow the natural healing process to take place. The same can be said for hurt feelings or the pain of a broken heart caused by an offender. In time we can heal if we allow the natural process of emotional healing to occur. This involves visiting a range of emotions along the way to forgiveness and emotional well-being. However, if we pick the scab, or continue to relive the story in our mind and tell the story over and over again to get supporters and other condemning jurors. We do not allow the natural emotional healing to take place. We again, are hurting ourselves. Should we at this point choose, "to forgive or not to forgive?"
I can remember being deeply hurt by a friend. I chose for a long time, "not to forgive." I can't tell you how much time, space and negative energy this offense and this person took up in my head and in my life. Forgiveness did not come until I could begin to engage my broken heart in the matter. I moved from a place of anger to a place of admitting that I was hurt. Once I was able to admit that my heart was broken, my spirit changed and I was ready to learn the lesson from this trial. I allowed my Heavenly Father to mold me. (Ephesians 4:32) I was finally able to make the six inch journey from my head to my heart. I began to look at the person's background, culture, birth order and every extenuating circumstance I could think of to understand why they offended me. Instead of making this person out to be a monster, I found that she too was broken hearted and wounded from our disagreement. From this place, we both were able to seek forgiveness. I am pleased to say that we can stand in each other's presence and be at peace. This is the gift we give ourselves when we choose to forgive.
Our relationship is not the same, I'm not sure it will ever be and I think we are both okay with that. Sometimes we just outgrow relationships and we have both comfortably come to this conclusion. However, I can say that allowing myself to truly forgive has brought about internal peace, spiritual growth, clarity and most important God's blessing of a clear conscience when I offer the prayer, "forgive me for my debts as I have forgiven my debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Okay ladies … To forgive or not to forgive … that is the question. What's stewing in your filter?
This article was originally published at Cathy Mott . Reprinted with permission from the author.