Forgiveness is really hard and sometimes it goes against everything we think we should do. And it’s something we all struggle with at some time or another.
When someone hurts us, we often feel like the responsibility to seek forgiveness lies with the offender – certainly not with us.
I have had my share of hurts from the pasts and it’s only recently that I have embraced and discovered the joy that comes with offering forgiveness.
I want you to have that as well. To feel the relief and transformation of no longer carrying the burden of anger, hurt and bitterness.
The cliche is so true that forgiveness is more a gift for the forgiver than for the forgiven.
It truly is a choice and a blessing.
I recently had the privilege to interview my mom Virginia and get her thoughts on forgiveness. She shares her own struggle with forgiveness, how she developed a forgiving heart and why forgiving herself was one of the hardest things to do.
My prayer is that you will find hope in her words and take at least one step today towards offering forgiveness to others, whether they deserve it or not.
Finding Joy: What is forgiveness and why is it important?
Virginia – Forgiveness is letting go of the hurt that someone has done to you and releasing that person. When you have un-forgiveness it shows by being easily hurt and angry. You may be irritable, cranky and take things so personally. That feeling does not go away until you seek a relationship with God. So take those feelings and questions to God and ask Him why you are feeling the way you do.
What are the steps to forgiveness? Where do you start?
First, look at yourself. Look at where you may have offended God and ask for His forgiveness. Then you can offer forgiveness to others, by the power of God’s forgiveness. When God showed me my sins, I was shocked with all I had done to offend Him. I was just living my life, thinking I was a good person but I was in darkness to my own offenses towards God and others. God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. He is ready to forgive us and we only need to ask with a humble heart.
Also see: A Glimmer Of Grace
Why should we seek forgiveness?
Un-forgiveness wounds the soul. It can bring diseases, hurt, bad spirits into your home. I like Matthew 18:21 about the story of the unforgiving servant. The servant was forgiven a large sum of money by his master. But when that servant met someone who owned him a much smaller sum, he beat him up and demanded his money back. When the master heard about the servants’ action, he got angry with him and told him and he and his entire household would be put to death. Here he was forgiven his large debt but he did not forgive the other person of his smaller debt. The entire household, even though they were innocent was impacted by his decision. Un-forgiveness affects not just you, but all those around you as well. Your entire family, your children. It is something that is passed on from one generation to another.
How do you form a relationship with God? For someone who might have been distant from God.
You first have to decide that you want a relationship with God. You have to humble yourself and recognize that you need God in your life and seek His forgiveness. You can say “Lord help me see you, to let go of my past hurts, to forgive myself as well”.
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself. How do you go about forgiving yourself?
This was one of the hardest thing for me – to forgive myself. But I learned that when you can’t forgive yourself then go back to God. Pray to Him and ask Him to help you forgive yourself. I have learned that the reason self forgiveness is hard is because you have not fully accepted God’s love and mercy.
God showed me that it was my pride that kept me from forgiving myself. I was acting like I was my own god and my own judge. Pride is taking over God’s work. It is God’s work to forgive. You are not your savior. You cannot save yourself, only God can save you. God is ready to forgive; we need only ask Him. He is happy to forgive and welcome us back.
How has your life changed since you’ve forgiven others?
I am more patient with others. I have more empathy because I recognize that I am not fighting the person who is hurting me; I am fighting the evil spirit that might be working in them. Every time you think of the person who has offended you, pray for them. It is hard to hate someone you are praying for.
Do you have to tell the person that you have forgiven them?
If it’s someone you interact with a lot, then tell them you have forgiven them and ask for their forgiveness as well for thinking negatively towards them. Express your hurt to them. Then leave it behind you and move on.
What if someone continues to be hurtful towards you?
In that case you have to ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to help you deal with them that you might not feel anger or hatred towards them. Say a prayer every time they come around you. They might be in darkness and they will sense the light within you. Praise God in your heart whenever they are around you. Once you have Jesus in your heart, no evil can come around you. One pastor I was listening to said that he trains himself to be praying and praising Jesus in his mind. I try to do it as well and I can be cooking or cleaning and in my mind I am praising Jesus. It is so powerful. You should try it.
Any final tips you can give us about forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a choice. The hardest people to forgive are your family members and it’s because we put them on a pedestal and think they should never do anything wrong. But they are human and make mistakes as well. We act like they should be better than that and so it’s so hard to forgive your own. But God can do anything and He can give you the grace of a forgiving heart.
Did you find this interview helpful? Does it help you make the decision to forgive those who have hurt you.
It is not an easy thing to do that’s for sure but the release, joy and peace you can gain from letting go of past hurts makes it so worth it.
Read more about forgiveness here.