There’s an old saying, “forgive, but not forget.”
Forgiveness can be one of the most complicated actions a person has to navigate in their life experiences.
Although complex, I believe it to be an important struggle that all believers must endure and overcome if we are to live the lives God has called us to live.
Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another.
Either your parents abused you, your friends betrayed you, your spouse had an affair or even someone in the church broke your heart.
No matter what the circumstances, these scars can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness and even vengeance.
There’s no single definition for forgiveness, but it’s believe it to be a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness is the act of disconnecting yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense that was committed against you.
I have written about forgiveness, probably more than any topic I can speak of and I have done so because for so many years I carried an unforgiving heart toward people that made me feel imprisoned in my own spirit.
Although I have written quite a bit about the subject, I have never truly offered suggestions to begin operating with a forgiving heart.
Forgiveness is at the core of Christian teaching and belief, yet there is no end to our attempts to understand, appreciate and enact it in our lives.
Author Lyn Klug says, “First, there is the forgiveness of God, which assures us of our worth and strengthens us to take this practice to heart in our doings.
Then there is the forgiveness we extend to others, especially those who have harmed or wronged us in some way.
Finally, there is self-forgiveness which enables us to release our guilt and self-perfectionism.”
No matter how much we practice these three, it never gets any easier to do.
As we look to create a life and heart of forgiveness there are a few things we can do to maintain our way on the journey.
First, we must begin by struggling to form the habit of forgiveness in the smallest things like with a child, with traffic, with little irritations. Do not struggle in a small way, but throw yourself into forgiveness. It should become a habit.
Secondly, we can use this prayer for the enemies who seem to be beyond our ability to pray: “O God, at the dread judgment, do not condemn them for my sake.” This places forgiveness at a distance and even a hard heart can often manage the small prayer of forgiveness at such a distance.
Thirdly, be always aware of your own failings and constantly ask for God’s forgiveness. “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
Next, as much as possible cultivate in your heart the understanding that all human beings are broken and victims of the fall. None of us enters a world of purity, nor do we enter the world fully functional as a human being. Life offers us the possibility of the gradual cultivation of mercy in our heart.
Many will complain that our culture already has a foundation in which no one takes responsibility for their actions. The same people may well imagine that the world would be better if only everyone took more responsibility. But they themselves will not take on the responsibility that belong to us all which is to forgive.
Mustering up genuine compassion for those who have wronged us, instead of allowing anger toward them to eat away at us, is the course of action recommended by most psychologists.
Those same psychologists also believe letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. Forgiveness can lead to: Healthier relationships, greater spiritual and psychological well-being, less anxiety, stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression and lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
By embracing forgiveness, we embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy and those are the things that God represents.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you,” (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Also it is important to remember that when we forgive we outwit Satan. “If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not aware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:10-11.
Keep the faith and stay encouraged. M.J.T.P. Love.
Donell Maxie is a staff writer for The Bolivar Commercial. He can be reached via e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.