Forgiveness Part One

Forgiveness Part One

Forgiveness.

One little word. And it can mean so much. It can also be one of the most difficult things to do.

It is hard to extend grace to someone when you hurt.

It is hard to forgive when the person hasn’t apologized. Or when they do apologize but they cause the same hurt to your heart over and over.

Matthew West has a song called Forgiveness. One of the lines hits to the heart. “So let it go and be amazed To see through the eyes of grace. The prisoner that it really frees is you. Forgiveness.”

I had never considered unforgiveness a prison cell. I had to ask myself, “Could I be a prisoner to unforgiveness?”
I’m going to be honest with you: people close to me have hurt me. I ask God what to do, and I know immediately in my heart that I need to forgive. In those moments, I am so hurt that I tell God that awful word of rejection: “No.”

It is just so difficult to let go of hurt. When I get hurt, I look to God and want the person who hurt me to immediately be judged for their meanness and ill behavior. Don’t we all expect a small bolt of lightning to come down and do its work? We expect the lightning bolt to get their attention, so they would come to their knees, ask for forgiveness, and never hurt us like that again. That’s the stuff of dreams.

Sorry…?

In reality most of the time when I have been hurt, nothing in way of apologies and formal forgiveness happens. Half of the time, the other person probably doesn’t even realize that they have hurt me. In those few times when the hurt came down harsh and cruel and intentional, and no apology came my way . . . those are the hardest hurts to heal from. Those are the hardest to forgive.

We have all had someone hurt us. Whether the someone was a close friend or family or it was someone we didn’t know at all, the hurt has come. We all know hurt of the heart.
I know firsthand the hurt of the heart, especially that intentional hurt, takes a long time to heal. That hurt takes even longer to heal when I withhold forgiveness. When I choose to forgive quickly and give those hurts to God, my healing is quicker.

Over a year ago, someone that I love said some pretty cruel things about me. I was unfortunate enough to overhear the words. Those words cut deep into my heart. I was broken. Except broken doesn’t describe it well. I was shattered – into thousands of pieces. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

I never received a formal apology for the immense pain those words did to my heart and my mind. Someone said those words over a year ago, and sometimes it feels like I just heard them yesterday. My hurt lingers.

The words were spewn hot and angry. The tongue is a fire. (James 3:6)  The tongue has the power of life and death. (Proverbs 81:21) The words brought so much negativity and doubt into my mind. Because of that, I thought the world might just be a better place without me in it. I wrongly thought that everyone around me would be happier if I was gone.

But I didn’t want to leave.

But those words . . . those hurtful words still ring in my ears. Some days they play on a loop, until the joy has drained from every inch of my mind. They say, “You’re a terrible person. Your husband deserves better. Everything you do is wrong. You don’t deserve friends, because you are awful to be around.”

But those words are lies. I play the record player in my mind, accepting the lies as truth. They came from a dark place of raw unfiltered emotion and not an ounce of God’s truth about who I am in Christ. I still have days that I have to crawl to the cross and give all that hurt to God. Then comes the hard part:

I have to forgive.

No, I don’t have to forgive. I can hold the hurt and let it etch into my whole being and accept it as truth for who I am. I could stay angry and allow bitterness to seep into my soul. I could. But I choose not to.

I choose to forgive. Why? Because I have been forgiven. Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” This is a tough verse to swallow sometimes. It is hard to accept and model in my life.  I want to hold the hurt and wait for justice – lightning.

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I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve hurt others. (More on that coming in Part 2!) But Jesus chose to forgive me, while I was still a sinner. And if He can forgive me for all the hurt that I cause, then I can choose to forgive others for hurting me.

And when I do forgive, I open the prison cell and walk to freedom. When I forgive, I begin to heal. And in time, the hurt doesn’t sting as bad.

Come back for Part 2 of Forgiveness, where I will address another angle of hurt and true forgiveness.

29 Comments

  1. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it.

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    • Thank you, Jenny!

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  2. Dana,
    So happy to be joining you today from the #raralinkup. I have been wounded and scarred by those closest to me too. I’m so grateful today that the Lord has led me to open my heart and free myself to forgive. Unforgiveness harbors so much inner turmoil that then manifests as other problems (physical, emotional, mental). Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! Praise Him for walking in the freedom of forgiveness.

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    • Thanks for reading today, Tyra! Forgiveness is definitely a gift of grace. I am so grateful for it!

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  3. This is a tough topic for me as well. I have struggled with forgiving my father throughout my life. Every time I let him back in my heart, he broke it again. I know what you mean by hoping for that “bolt of lightening.” I’m ashamed to say how many times I have wished for that. I’m so sorry you were hurt. I truly understand how hard it is to let go, as you so perfectly said “hurt lingers.” Thank you for sharing your story here and some wonderful encouragement for those of us still struggling.

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    • Candace, I still struggle! The very day that I published this post, I struggled to forgive someone I love. I wanted the bolt of lightning! I am humbled by it, as I carry that burden to the cross and choose to let go and forgive. That choice can be so hard! Blessings to you!

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  4. Beautiful post. I am always reminded of something Ken Sande at Peacemaker Ministries always said: “Unforgiveness is the poison we take hoping someone else will die.” Forgiveness frees us.

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    • I love that quote, Rob! It is the truth!!

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  5. You’ve hit on so many things that have been on my heart. Forgiveness does make us captive. It’s so freeing to let go of hurt, even if the other person doesn’t understand why we’re forgiving.

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    • I’m so glad that the words ministered to you, Kristin! May God bless you today as you forgive!

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  6. Oh, this is the hardest, isn’t it? When those we love and trust the most break that trust? It hurts in the deep places. The very hard to forgive places. You are so right, forgiveness is a CHOICE and you are also right that those thoughts you had were LIES. I’m so sorry you were hurt, but so very glad that God brought you through it to a place of forgiveness. It’s really true that when we don’t forgive, we end up hurting ourselves more than the offender. Thank you for sharing from this place of vulnerability today. xoxo

    Reply
    • Thanks for reading, Meredith! I struggled during that time. But I knew God was there, close. He brought me to Him, where I could rest in Him and heal — and forgive. It wasn’t an easy choice, but once I took the step to let go and forgive, I felt the most incredible freedom! God is so good. So glad to have connected with you!

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  7. Bitterness is a prison. I like Crazy Uncle Rob’s post: “Unforgiveness is the poison we take hoping someone else will die.” and I would add when all it is doing is killing us or at least making us mentally ill. If you want a vivid lesson in what bitterness can do, look around at older people; you will find that some have bitterness etched in their face and bodies. And others are a joy to be around. Pay attention as to which ones know how to forgive. One author titled their book, “Hurt People Hurt People.” Bitterness is a mental and emotional illness that God wants to keep us free from. It is a trap. Letting go of the hurt frees you to love people, not hurt them with your pain.

    I grew up with bitterness and unforgiveness all around. Then I met Jesus. Forgiveness is very hard, especially if you learned at a young age to take revenge and protect yourself with your bitterness. I was known for knowing how to wait and go for the jugular.

    Asking to be forgiven is also hard. But as I learned to ask, I learned some special words from those who forgave me: “of course I forgive you.” I cried the day that I had to ask my young children to forgive me and they both replied “of course I forgive you.” I knew at that moment that Jesus had changed my family and broken the cycle of bitterness. I cried because it was that painful of a prison that I was breaking out of.

    You said, “I thought the world might just be a better place without me in it. I wrongly thought that everyone around me would be happier if I was gone. But I didn’t want to leave.” I am glad you didn’t want to leave; you are important and have great value to me and many people (I tried to count them but the number got too high) AND to Jesus. Know that those thoughts and feelings come straight from the one known as the accuser of the brethren. I am encouraged that you know them to be lies. Those thoughts and feelings are poison, trying to kill us. Or as has happened to me — trying to get me to kill myself. The chance that the words that made us feel that way came from unforgiveness is very high. Satan uses hurt people to hurt people.

    I have also learned that forgiveness teaches me about who God is. God is changing my life to be more like Him. And as I learn to forgive deep hurts, I learn to freely accept his forgiveness for my sin. My learning to forgive is learning to be like Jesus. The more I learn to say “of course I forgive you!” the more I understand that is what God says to me when I confess my sin. And I am beginning to understand His mercy and His grace because I am beginning to understand His desire to forgive even me.

    Some hurts take more to forgive, but keep at it. It is worth being set free and staying free.

    thank you for sharing.
    love,
    marcy

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    • Thanks, Marcy!

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  8. Yes! We are feed when we forgive. We can finally let go of the anger, irritation and pain and grab hold of love and peace. There is so much power in this. I cheer your words and your call to forgive on from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.

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    • Thanks, Kelly! I appreciate your encouraging words.

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  9. When those painful and often unfair words cut to the quick, they have the power to destroy if we let them. This is such a hard topic because our emotions are so strong and our hurt often speaks louder than what is really true. Forgiveness is our path to healing and freedom, so true so true.

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    • Emotions can be so tricky! I loved the book by Lysa Terkhurst, Unglued. It really opened my eyes to what emotions can do during a painful situation. Thanks for connecting, Ginger!!

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  10. “They came from a dark place of raw unfiltered emotion and not an ounce of God’s truth about who I am in Christ.”

    This one sentence summed it up for me. When my emotion trumps the call of Christ to release a person who has offended me, I’m in trouble! Beautiful post, Dana, and thank you.

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    • Thanks for reading, Meg. It is important to keep in mind who we are in Christ! The troubles of this world seem to overshadow that sometimes.

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  11. There is so much wisdom shared in this post. I think everyone can identify with struggling to forgive at some point in their life. I love the song you mentioned by Matthew West. Each time I hear it played on KLOVE, it pierces my heart. Sometimes it’s easy to forgive and but then the enemy reminds us of the hurt caused and we have a tendency to take the forgiveness back. I’ve learned I need to forgive some offenses over and over and over again. Thank you for sharing so openly about a time you were hurt and needed to forgive, Dana. I can’t wait to read the second part of this post!

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    • Thanks for reading, Tina. In those hard-to-let-go moments, I find myself going back to the cross over and over again. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’ve taken it back, rather than leaving it at the cross. I am amazed at how easily God forgives us, because I find it hard to forgive over the simple things at times.

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  12. I gotta say I love that Matthew West song… and what an honest look at how we handle hurt, and find freedom. You mention intentional hurt, and gosh, that has to be my hardest area for letting go. Strangers aren’t a big deal, but those close to me, on purpose… the enemy uses it to question what we think we know, to place insecurity where God intended value. It’s a tough one.
    That’s when we have to focus less on the hurt, and more on the Healer.
    Oh, and by the way, yes, I would consider you a part of the “great writers” group I mentioned earlier 😉 Definitely.

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    • The enemy can do a lot of awful things to make us lose our focus on what God wants us to see. Thank you for your comments. I’m glad to have connected with you!!

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  13. Yes, so true. Forgiveness is the hardest thing we know we must do. Have you seen the video of the true story behind Matthew West’s song? It is so remarkable. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth looking up on YouTube:) Blessings to you!

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    • I hadn’t heard that story, but I did just watch it. Powerful stuff. Thank you!

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  14. It is hard to extend grace to someone when you hurt.
    Forgiveness.

    Beautiful, Dana. Thank you for sharing and for joining the dance!

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  15. “And when I do forgive, I open the prison cell and walk to freedom. When I forgive, I begin to heal. And in time, the hurt doesn’t sting as bad.” Loved this and so true. Thank you for sharing your heart. Your words have encouraged me on my own journey!

    Reply
    • Thank you for reading, Michelle.

      Reply

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  1. Forgiveness Part Two | Baseball & Tutus - […] the last post, I talked about forgiveness. I addressed what I go through when someone has hurt […]

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