Mention the word forgiveness to many wounded people and you will get some serious groans. Most people dislike the word and few really understand the word. Yet, we are commanded to forgive. There are many, many passages in Scripture that command us to forgive. But HOW? And what is forgiveness anyway?

Let’s start out with clearing out some misconceptions. Forgiveness does not mean that an offense didn’t happen. Forgiving the person who hurt you does not remove their responsibility to make things right. Forgiveness does not mean never bringing it up again. Forgiveness does not mean everything is all better now and we can act like the offense never happened. It does not mean that the person who hurt you was right in hurting you or never hurt you at all. Forgiveness doesn’t make it ok. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to remain in the relationship with the person who hurt you. It also does not mean you have to trust the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. It doesn’t erase the damage or undo the past. It does however, alter the future.

If you have been betrayed by someone, forgiveness is essential if you chose to reconcile. It will take time and it will be hard but it is essential for the relationship to move forward. It is a process and it is not a once and done thing. Forgiveness for deep offenses will have to be granted many, many times. Forgiveness will not happen right away but it will need to, at some point.

If you have been betrayed by someone, forgiveness is essential if you chose not to reconcile. It will take time and it will be hard but it is essential for you to move forward. It is a process and it is not a once and done thing. Forgiveness for deep offenses will have to be granted many, many times. Forgiveness will not happen right away but it will need to, at some point.

Forgiveness is releasing the inner turmoil of bitterness. Forgiveness is saying someone is worth more than their actions, even if they don’t  know it. Forgiveness is saying their actions no longer dictate your life. Forgiveness is what we are taught in The Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:9-14. Forgiveness is commanded of us. It sucks to do, let’s just be real. But this doesn’t remove our responsibilities to forgive, even when it is undeserved. In fact, maybe more when it is undeserved.

John Piper gives a very good explanation of forgiveness here.

I have forgiven my ex-husband more times than I can count. For a while, it seemed like he was done giving me new things to forgive him for. Then my daughter started to really process her abandonment by him. I felt like I was back at square one with the bitterness, because in many ways, I was. Watching her realize he didn’t chose her, opened up all my wounds of all the times he didn’t chose me. Reminding me he declined reconciliation after divorce. The bitterness root, trying it’s hardest to take root. Nobody was winning though, just because I held onto the unforgiveness like it was my right and duty as a Mama Bear.  I was miserable and I was teaching my children that if someone hurts us enough, we get to change who we are called to be.

Praise God that He is faithful even when I am not. Praise God He is patient with us. Praise God He isn’t content to let me stew in my own sin just because of someone else’s.

He had been pecking at me about this whole thing called forgiveness again for over a week. He has put people in my paths that show me His true character. He has put people in my path that remind me of the pain my ex-husband carries for his offenses, the very ones I was choosing to be bitter about. God reminded me who I am called to be. God even used Wonder Woman and characters from The Flash to speak to me. He knows His daughter well.

“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves – something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know… that only love can truly save the world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.” ~ Diana (aka Wonder Woman)

Bitterness and unforgiveness doesn’t bring freedom, love and forgiveness do. Forgiveness sets captives free. The Cross is proof of that. Unforgiveness and Love cannot exist at the same time and I am commanded to love all people, even the ones that hurt me. I surrendered the bitterness up and spiritually things exploded in my world. The heavens opened up and I was lighter. Then the true test began. A dream of my ex-husband with a new woman, each wearing an engagement ring. I have no idea of his relationship status but when I woke up, instead of the venom for him and disgust for her I would have expected, I had peace. I found myself praying for him and my vision of his new fiance’

The peace was surreal. I saw my ex-husband as His maker sees him. It doesn’t erase what He has done to us and is still currently doing to my children, but the anger and desire for his demise was gone. I wept for him. For his pain. I prayed for God’s hand in his life. I even prayed for this woman in my dream, not knowing if she is real or not. And I meant all of it. I still do. The peace, is still here. I am pretty sure the next time I see the abandonment showing up in my children or feel the financial struggle I face as a single parent or am exhausted from a 17 hour day on hardly any sleep, I will have to forgive him again. And I will. Because that is what I am commanded to do. Because Jesus did not die on a cross for me to be stuck in the nasty spirit of bitterness. Because I believe in love. Real love, not the fluffy bunny stuff you see in the movies but the kind of love that transcends transgressions. A love of mankind for nothing more than because they were made in the image of my maker. Because there is this guy…. He died on a cross for them too……

 

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