Monday, January 23, 2023

Here's Why You Should Forgive (and 3 surprising reasons you shouldn't forget)

Matthew 6

Our Pastor has been preaching through the Lord's Prayer.  Yesterday's sermon was about forgiveness.  And so I'm dusting off this 2019 essay and sending it your way because this subject always needs to be revisited.  
At least in my life.  And I'm guessing yours, too?

💔

In my role as a pastoral counselor, I've talked to hundreds and hundreds of men and women during the last 17 years.  And I think it's safe to say that between 90% - 95% of those who have sat with me, tissues in hand, are there because there's a forgiveness issue in some way, shape, or form in their lives.

It's hardly ever the 'presenting problem.'  The need to forgive is often disguised by a myriad of family problems, relationship challenges, church upheavals, or workplace issues.  Anger, depression, anxiety, or addictive behaviors are usually in the mix.  Bitter roots have taken up what looks to be permanent residence.  And in the process, the emotions, attitudes, personality, and health of a precious soul have taken a huge hit, slowly transforming the person into someone they never dreamed they'd become.

It's not until the conversation goes much deeper that the root of all the turmoil clearly comes into view.  Someone besides Jesus Christ sits on the throne of their broken hearts, calling the shots, directing the traffic, running the show.  And the only way to unseat that unwelcome, destructive usurper is to make the seemingly impossible choice to forgive.

The sad fact is that until we release those who have run roughshod over us and done us wrong, they will own us, lock, stock, and barrel, with an ugly stranglehold that refuses to be undone.  We will remain dreadfully stuck, mired in the quicksand of the unfortunate past.  Until we can send our perpetrators packing and move ahead with our own lives without constantly looking back and wringing our hands over what was, we will live as powerless victims.


The one who wounded you along the way may not deserve forgiveness.  And might not even grasp that he needs it.  Or could care less about asking for it.  Chances are they've moved on and forgotten that they were offensive or hurtful or just plain destructive.  But if we want to move ahead and live life to the fullest, forgiveness is a pivotal step that's simply non-negotiable.

I'm thinking we make forgiveness way harder than it needs to be.  It seems cumbersome, impossible ... and somehow so wrong.

But it turns out that forgiveness can be as simple as this 🠞  

Finally telling the Lord, 'I'm done hauling this pain around.  You take it.  I wish my perpetrator well.'

Yes.  That simple.

It doesn't demand justice or explanations or apologies or wrongs to be made right.  It doesn't require more tear-laden conversations or 180 degree turns.

You may have to ask God to do this for you, in you, through you.  Repeatedly.  That's ok.  He knows the purposes of your heart.

I choose to wish you well.
💔

This is different than reconciliation.  A re-knitting of minds and hearts, a rebuilding of relationship.  That's another story.  And it's lovely when that happens.

But often that isn't the case.  The hurt has been too severe, the pain has lingered far too long, the relationship was toxic or abusive or some such thing that should not be pursued or rekindled.

But you can still wish the person well.  In your heart, in prayer with the Lord.

For He's the One who's not going to abuse you, betray you, abandon you, exclude you, wound your battered soul.

He never leaves, He doesn't forsake, He doesn't change like shifting shadows.

He gets it.  He offered forgiveness on the cross.

💔

And yes, remembering isn't a bad thing.  For in doing so ...

1.  We become wiser in our future choices of companions, in what we pursue, in what we deem important.

2.  We acknowledge that we are prone to err, to wound others with our self-absorbed pride, careless words, and harmful actions.

3.  We become students of grace and are quicker to ask for forgiveness and not just mumble a quick 'sorry' when we've sinned against another.

💔

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Colossians 3:12 - 13

And by the way, the hardest person you might have to forgive is yourself.  For your own sinful choices, stupid decisions, or somehow betraying what you valued and held dear.  Take it from a forgiven forgiver.  Because in the end, it was the least I could do to honor the One who had forgiven me for so much ...
Linda

THE FOLLOW UP

*

Subscribers - click on today's title
& scroll down 
to join the conversation.  

Not a subscriber yet?  
Click here now!
It's free!  And the good news?  You'll
only hear from me once or twice a week.  

*
sharing with 
Paula & Jeanne & Donna Richella & Lisa

46 comments:

  1. Excellent post today. I agree that we make forgiveness harder than it needs to be. It is impossible to forgive someone by ourselves. We need God's strength to even want to forgive some people. I need to remind myself that God tells us to forgive, so it's in obedience to Him when I do it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'We need God's strength to even want to forgive some people.'

      No truer words have been spoken. Amen.
      👍

      Delete
  2. Wise words of truth. Thank you, Linda. - Debby

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Linda 🥰

    * via email

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a great post, Linda! So much wisdom. I agree, we sometimes make it more complicated than it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, just one step at a time in obedience.

      'I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me'
      - Philippians 4:13.
      👣

      Delete
  5. I’m going to hold onto this article to reread as preparation for a session I am preparing on the Lord’s Prayer.
    And I wonder if you have seen Tim Keller’s latest titled Forgive? I’m hooked and just barely through the Introduction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you find a book that captures your heart on the few pages, you know you've got a winner. Thanks for the heads up on Keller's book. Sounds excellent, Michele.
      📘

      Delete
  6. Good article. I agree and have written often about this on my Blog and books. Thanx Linda.

    God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Forgiveness is at the core of a healthy, balanced life, Linda. And I do think wishing the one not deserving of forgiveness well is such an important first step in learning to let go of the past completely. I also submit that forgiving ourselves is the hardest thing to do, but we must trust Jesus to help us do so.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Forgiveness is at the core of a healthy, balanced life'

      Wow and yes, Martha. And I agree that forgiving ourselves is not an easy assignment. I've been praying about going there next week. Thanks for the nudge in that direction, friend.
      🕊️

      Delete
  8. I have seen-as I am sure you have-lives totally ruined by the failure to forgive or to ask forgiveness. The converse to that is the great healing which comes as a result of forgiving or being forgiven. What I do reject is the "Bethel approach" that sickness, pain, etc is the result of failing for forgive. "if you would forgive or ask forgiveness you will be healed." While some healing of the soul can be the result, it is not a guarantee of physical healing. Forgiveness is a much-needed aspect of the Christian walk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm with you, Bill. The healing of the soul is one thing. Physical healing is another ballgame. The Lord can do what He pleases. But I don't believe it's an authomatic 1 + 1 deal. Praise God we can trust body, mind, and spirit into His keeping as we are obedient to what He leads us to do.
      ✝️

      Delete
  9. Such a wonderful read this afternoon. Oh my! NOT forgiving can cause us to live such unhealthy lives in so many different aspects of life. The bitterness it causes is like a deadly cancer. Thank you for always sharing God's Word. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'The bitterness it causes is like a deadly cancer.' Yes, yes, yes, Cindy.

      Bitter roots yield bitter fruit. And 'by their fruit ye shall know them'
      - Matthew 7:20.
      🍏

      Delete
  10. I will not forgive for me,
    and I will not forgive for you.
    I'll forgive because I see
    that it's the proper thing to do.
    Sure, it maybe heals my heart ,
    and sure, it opens up your cage,
    but all this is the smallest part
    of its presence on the Scripture page.
    The point is that it's what God needs
    from us, that He can hold us near
    and each forgiving plants the seeds
    of Tree Of Love that chokes out fear
    to grow in Sonlight giving purpose
    that our lives have in His service.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew, I love this truth that as we obey God and draw near to Him, love can blossom that can choke out the fear that so many of us grapple with, and we can be freed to serve Him fully.

      Thank you for taking us there. Good fruit indeed.
      🌳

      Delete
  11. Hi Linda,

    This is great! So godly, so clear, and so sensible. God’s love for us would not want us to hang onto unforgiveness and to stew in our own juices of resentment.

    * via email

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Stewing in our own juices of resentment.' Not a very pretty picture, is it. Not who we want to be, is it.
      🎨

      Delete
  12. Thank you for the insightful post.

    I agree that forgiving ourselves can be hardest thing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgiving ourselves. So we can be free to soar and serve and finally filled with joy. I think we're going to go there next week. God willing. Thanks for being here, Margie.
      🪁

      Delete
  13. When we forgive, we let go of the emotional baggage that can hold us back.
    Wise words as always, Linda.

    Hugs and blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That emotional baggage is exhausting to carry, isn't it. Most of us have to learn the hard way ...
      👜

      Delete
  14. Linda, this is an excellent post. And I love the twist you put on remembering instead of forgetting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It doesn't have to be a hand-wringing, victimized, looking backward thing. It can be a pro-active, prayerful nudge toward learning and wisdom, right?!
      😏

      Delete
  15. I needed this. Could you pray for me. Lots on my mind. I’m exhausted. Regine
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Lord, thank You that You're right there with Regine. Thank You for Your love toward her. May she be strengthened by Your lovingkindness as she makes her way through this week. Restore her body and soul I pray in Jesus, name.
      Amen.
      ✝️

      Delete
  16. I have to admit, there've been times when I've said the words, "Lord, I forgive him; I pray you will bless him," when my heart wasn't in it. The heart-response happened over time as my emotions caught up to my words. Full forgiveness was a growing reality, not instantaneous.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I love this, Nancy - 'The heart-response happened over time as my emotions caught up to my words. Full forgiveness was a growing reality, not instantaneous.'

      Your words are so full of grace and truth, friend. God does His healing work in His time. We can trust Him with this whole forgiveness thing.

      Delete
  17. "Finally telling the Lord, 'I'm done hauling this pain around. You take it. I wish my perpetrator well.'" I love that! We can make forgiveness complicated, instead of simply letting God take it on for us, over and over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've given us the key, Lynn - 'letting God take it on for us, over and over.' Let's take the pressure off ourselves to perform and release those who've wronged us to Him. He does all things well and will tend to every detail that's plaguing us.
      🗝️

      Delete
  18. Dear Linda! I am so deeply moved and in tears and had to read this aloud to our son. His words, "That was absolutely excellent!" I couldn't agree more. You hit the nail on the head in SO many ways, and your wisdom is such a deep well. I can only imagine the good you have accomplished during your years as a pastoral counselor. How blessed are the ones who have sat across from you pouring out their hearts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If there's anything good or noteworthy around here, all praise goes right back up to Him. Thank you for your emails and encouraging words. I look forward to what God has in store for us in these months ahead!
      🕊️

      Delete
  19. This hit the nail on the head. I mentioned some of this advice at CR open share. You are STILL a cog in that wheel. PTL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When it comes to real, genuine community, Celebrate Recovery takes the lead. Your faithful leadership honors Christ and blesses all that get to sit together with you. Please say 'hi' to everyone there. Don't you just love how God has 'redeemed the years the locusts have eaten,' how He's answered so many prayers. Thanks for being here, Buds. I miss you.
      xo
      🥰

      Delete
  20. so insightful to read. You give me something to ponder. Often I find it hard to forgive at first, but slowly slowly melt my emotions into love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That image of our emotions slowly melting into love is a powerful, poignant one. So true that our emotions often follow the decisions we purposefully make. Thank you for this wisdom.
      😏

      Delete
  21. Such wisdom here, Linda!!! "Finally telling the Lord, 'I'm done hauling this pain around. You take it. I wish my perpetrator well.'" I need to remember this as I'm on my own journey with forgiveness (again and again).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reminding us all that forgiveness isn't always a 'one and done.' Makes me realize how often God, through Christ, keeps on forgiving me.
      ✝️

      Delete
  22. Linda, this is excellent. Thank you for sharing and I will be forwarding this to others to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Pam, thanks ... that means so much to me.
      💌

      Delete