Updated: Jun 19, 2020
I have never met someone who has not struggled to forgive at one point or another in their life. Sometimes the most painful situations to forgive can be those that are either repetitive OR, are done by someone who is close to us. Either way what is most important is that forgiveness is possible and there is always a way to move on from the hurts of yesterday.
Before we get to the answer for today’s blog, let us first look at what it means to forgive.
The word ‘forgive’ means to release or send away. It involves a dismissal of sorts. When someone offends us, we can either hold on to the offense or release (dismiss) the offense. In this blog post we are going to be looking at how we actively hold on to the offense and sabotage our healing process.
When we choose not to forgive we actively HOLD ON to the offense......
To hold on to an offense means that we allow the offense to control and dictate what happens after we have been offended. Ultimately, we surrender ourselves and give ‘power’ to the offense. We end up giving the offense the power to determine how we feel and what we do. It is important to realize that we are actively relinquishing our opportunity to move on when we CHOOSE to hold on to offenses.
People who find it hard to move on after being hurt actively hold on to the offense committed against them.
How do we actively hold on to the offense?
We actively hold on to an offense and sabotage our own healing by doing these three things:
You KEEP THINKING about the offense.
The best way to keep holding on to an offense is to keep thinking about it. Notice, the key word ‘keep’. When we are deeply offended by something or someone we have the tendency to continuously think about what was done to us. We think on it over and over and deepen its effect in our hearts. This is why it is so hard for some people to get over things because of the number of years they have spent thinking about what was done to them.
When offended we all will think about the hurt, BUT REMEMBER, you can control your thoughts.
Look at what this Bible verse says -
“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.” (1 Timothy 4:7)
It is so important for us to realize that we have to train ourselves to be godly. We don’t naturally think on that which is right, godly and beneficial - we have to train ourselves to think in that manner.
It is very easy to hold on to the negatives of life, we certainly don’t need any training for that. But as we train ourselves to reject unproductive thoughts by immersing ourselves in the truth of God’s Word and actively think on that which is wholesome, we will find that the feelings associated with the hurt begin to dissipate.
You KEEP SPEAKING about what was done to you.
People who actively hold on to the offense committed against them have the habit of continually talking about what was done to them. Over and over they continue to harp on the matter. Now, don’t get me wrong. We all need to talk about what was done to us. I’m certainly not saying we should keep everything bottled in. But sometimes after we speak about the matter, we take every opportunity to keep afresh the hurt by faithfully speaking about it to whomever crosses our path and is interested to hear.
Continually speaking about the hurt done to us doesn’t facilitate the healing process. Give yourself the time to heal. Speak about it with a trusted friend, get the godly advice you need and after that - LEAVE IT ALONE. Stop talking about it. Always remember - the more we speak about it, the longer we take to be healed.
Look at the type of conversations we should be having:
“Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone” (Colossians 4:6).
If we are going to get over the hurt done to us, our conversation has to change from the constant repetition of what was done to us and we have to graduate to fruitful, wholesome and edifying conversations.
You KEEP allowing yourself to be led by your feelings.
When we actively hold on to the hurts of yesterday, we allow ourselves to be led by how we are feeling. This definitely is a hard one to hear and swallow, but feelings led living is extremely destructive. Think about it for a little - the person was so angry he murdered someone; or imagine someone being so hurt that he committed suicide.
We have all heard the horror stories about people who claimed they couldn’t get over it - whatever ‘IT’ was. But the truth is, you can get over it. For every painful situation you have been through, there is someone who has gone through something much more painful than you and moved on with their life. Let their story be an encouragement to you. Don’t be quick to say: ‘but they are not me’ OR ‘I am not like others’. Although those statements are true they are not helpful. The stories of others greatly impact our own lives and have been given to us to help us and encourage us.
As I said before - Feelings led living only leads to disaster. Please let that sink in!! When I feel angry, I shouldn’t allow my feelings to drive me to murder. When I’m sad, I shouldn’t allow my feelings to drive me into deep depression. Feelings must never be given too much authority.
So what should we do with our feelings?
We CONTROL them!!!
But you ask how? How? How do I control the angry, bitter, hurtful feelings I have? Good question.
I’ll give you three practical ways to control your feelings.
One powerful way for us to take control of our feelings is by speaking to someone about what we are going through. We all need a good, godly friend who we can give full vent to. Now, as I said before, you have permission to speak to someone, but REMEMBER - don’t KEEP speaking about the matter. ONE full vent and that’s it. Move on!!!
The second powerful way to control our feelings is by PRAYING. Sometimes prayer is the furthest thing from our minds when we are upset, but it is the best thing we could practice doing when we are angry or hurt. And guess what? You can pray as much as you want. Pray and pray some more about the matter. Look at what the Bible says:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
We are told to pray in EVERY situation. When we pray, we are actually submitting ourselves to the Lord. As we submit to the Lord we are strengthened by him and we receive the help we need to get over that which is painful. Never underestimate the value of praying when hurt.
The third and final way to control how you feel is to choose to be merciful. This might seem like a rather churchy solution but hear me out.
When someone hurts us, our immediate desire tends to be to give the person what they deserve - which usually means some form of vengeance. But we need to practice to be merciful. We all could improve in showing mercy when we have been hurt. When we are Hurt, our hearts tend to move us towards hate. But we have to think and remind ourselves to be merciful. It is difficult, but possible with a little training.
The next time someone bad drives you on the road, try to first think ‘mercy’. Remember, showing mercy means giving someone the opposite of what they deserve. Sometimes we are naturally quick to give others what they deserve - from a piece of our mind to hurtful actions - but we have to practice letting mercy prevail. When we forgive we are actually showing mercy.
It is far too easy for most of us to give hurt for hurt, but in order for us to let go of the hurt of yesterday, we have to practice showing mercy. Look at what the Bible says:
“ For judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn't shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
No one wants to be hurt, but hurtful situations have a positive wrapped in them. They provide us with an opportunity to grow!!! And one sure way to utilize this growth opportunity is by maturing in the quality of MERCY.
Think about this for a little -
We never get the opportunity to grow in the grace of mercy until we are mistreated.
We certainly don’t search out opportunities to be mistreated, but when they come our way, let’s take full blown advantage of them and grow into merciful people.
Forgiveness is a very tough topic. We all have struggled with hurtful experiences at one point or another. If you desire to grow into a more forgiving person, or possibly, you need to get over some hurtful experiences, check out the biblically based devotional 21 Days To Forgiveness. It is jam packed with excellent practical advice that can help you to move past the hurts of yesterday.