Copyright July 2017
I had a conversation not long ago with an old acquaintance I ran into at the grocery store. Our brief visit left me concerned for my friend’s personal freedom.
“It is so good to see you, how have you been?” I asked cheerfully.
“Oh fine, busy with grand babies and my kids,” she replied.
A few minutes into our dialogue, she began to talk about how mad she was about something that happened years ago between her and someone else we both knew. She was still bitter and went on for a while about incident.
It made me sad to see her heart and mind hanging on to the offense. As I left her and in the days since our meeting, I have prayed for her to have the grace to forgive so she can be free.
Freedom in our personal lives is critical to a positive outlook on life and our physical well being. Life happens and we often encounter those that betray us, are unkind, self centered, take advantage of us or those we love, just to name a few. This can open the door of hurt, bitterness, and unforgiveness. Unless that door is shut, we can lose freedom in our hearts, unless we forgive.
Forgive means to cancel or pardon a debt, to stop feeing angry or resentful of someone for an offense. Almost 30 years ago, there were several people that betrayed me. The hurt was real and the pain was deep and cut to the core of my being. I had read the Bible and knew I needed to forgive but really did not feel like it. I was mad. It did not seem to matter where I went in my hometown, I ran into my offenders. It did not matter if I went to the grocery store, church, a party or the basketball court, they were there. I remember sitting in my vehicle in tears at the gym because once again, Iran into them and it pricked the pain that was in my heart. I sat there and asked God, “Why on earth do I keep running into them?” God’s simple answer to me was, “Kathleen, I am giving you the opportunity to forgive.” I sobbed a little more and then realized God loved me and wanted me free from the pain. I could keep pulling the victim card or I could choose to forgive.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (NIV) Luke 6:37 states, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)
We forgive because we need forgiveness for our sins. I knew I was not perfect and needed forgiveness from God, however, I was struggling with my feelings. I did not feel like forgiving and kept putting it off until I felt like it. I finally realized that forgiveness is a choice and God in his mercy kept giving me the opportunity and reminder I needed to chose his way, not mine.
I was honest with God and simply prayed, “God, I don’t feel like forgiving but I choose it as an act of my will to forgive because you said to do it.” That was the beginning of the process of forgiving.
Forgiveness is not a one time event. Often times, it is a process. The greater the hurt or betrayal, the longer the process can take because we have more pain to work through. The key is committing to the process and the good news is God will help us.
From the day at the basketball court and my surrender to God, each time I would encounter those that caused the hurt or replay the video in my mind, I would chose to forgive again, and eject the video. It took months for me to be fully free, but I can honestly say, the forgiveness was worth it and God healed the hurt. I am free.
Forgiveness aligns us with trust in God. We do it because his word says to do it if we want forgiveness. We forgive for own sake, benefit and freedom. Who do you need to forgive so you can walk in freedom? Choose to do something good for yourself and forgive.