This topic came up in my small group last week and it was a great discussion. We talked about how even after you choose to forgive someone, it takes time for your feelings to catch up to your decision. We also talked about the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. In some cases, after forgiveness, the relationship can be reconciled. But, there may be relationships that forgiveness is necessary, but reconciliation does not have to take place. Perhaps in the instance of abuse, safety, criminal act, or just wisdom of what you are exposing yourself or your family members to experiencing.
Everyone faces the need for forgiveness, both to give and receive. Often times, our human nature tells us the other person should feel or show remorse or give us an apology before we can forgive them. Scripture, however, tells us to forgive others so that we too will be forgiven by God. I believe God does this for our own good. What happens when we choose not to forgive? Anger and bitterness take root in our hearts, and we live life stuck in a place that keeps us from growing and moving forward. How can we be lights in the world in this darkened state? Forgiveness can seem impossible at times b/c our feelings confuse us so much. That’s why we need God to be able to do it. I’m so thankful for His forgiveness, and out of that, I can forgive others. It can be a tangled process, so here are the wise words of Joyce Meyer (from her book “Approval Addiction” that have helped me over the years when I’ve needed to put forgiveness into action. By the way, if you know Joyce’s story, you know she has had to live this out in her life!…….
“You may choose to forgive and yet find your feelings toward the person who hurt you are still quite unforgiving. Forgiveness is a choice you make and you must earnestly work toward that goal But understand it may take time. And that is okay. If we do what we can do God will do what we cannot do. We cannot make wrong feelings go away any more than we can make right ones come, but God can and will. If we will simply do what scripture instructs us to do, we will be able to work through the process of forgiveness. The first thing we must do is forgive those who have hurt us. The second thing is to pray for them as God has told us to do. Another thing God tells us to do is to bless our enemies, so that is the 3rd thing. To bless someone means to speak well of them and want good things for them. Refuse to talk unkindly about those who hurt you. Don’t keep talking about what your enemies did that hurt you It only keeps the pain stirred up in you……Bless them in practical ways when it is appropriate. (sending a gift or meeting a need, etc)
The fourth thing we must do is wait. “And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” Galatians 6:9 Don’t give up. Keep doing what is right, and wait on God to change your feelings. I have applied these four principles in my life and have seen victory over adverse feelings every time.”
So, in short:
1. Forgive those who have hurt you(the decision)
2. Pray for them
3. Bless them (in word and action when appropriate)
4. Wait on God to change your feelings
Choose to forgive today!