Ever hear that expression, “I forgive you, but I will not forget!”
There are still others, that say if you don’t forget then you have never really forgiven.
There are problems with both of these statements.
The first statement I would doubt forgiveness was really given. It sounds like a veiled threat. The second statement is impossible. You can never really forget what someone has done to hurt you.
The only One that can truly forgive and forget is God Himself.
Let’s unpack the act of forgiveness.
We have ALL been hurt or offended by someone, whether it is something they said or did directly to us, or if it was indirect (gossip, throwing us under the bus, etc). Frankly, it feels horrible.
Not one person I have met likes to be hurt or offended. However, I will say there are those who may are quick to be offended (these are the ones we would likely say have “thin skin”). I know, because I used to be one of them.
There was someone in my life that came alongside me as a mentor who taught me how to have thicker skin – who taught me about forgiveness.
He taught me there are two responses to being hurt and/or offended. We can either allow bitterness to set in because we choose not to forgive them, or we can release the person from the offense or hurt by forgiving them.
When we hold a grudge (bitterness) the only person who is really being negatively affected is ourselves. We continually remind ourselves of what caused the offense and open the wound that was inflicted over and over again never allowing it to heal.
I have seen bitterness literally begin to affect someone physically causing sickness, headaches, and poor health.
Bitterness is a terrible thing. It is like a festering wound that never heals. Bitterness causes someone trouble and begins to stain the relationships with those they are close to.
With bitterness, it blocks us from truly loving others. It is a scab that when picked it begins to remove the healthy skin around the wound.
Distrust is one of the major results of bitterness. Insecurity is another. It can strangle out the healthy aspects of any relationship.
Have I gotten your attention yet?
Living with Unforgiveness in our hearts toward others will slowly dismantle any healthy relationship piece by piece. I have witnessed it destroy marriages, destroy family relationships, destroy friendships, and slowly eat away at the health of two of my family members.
Bitter people – those who have never let go of a past offense or hurt – have built up walls in their hearts toward others. Whether they were hurt by…
A family member
By someone of another ethnicity
By a co-worker or employer
By someone in leadership
When offenses are not dealt with in a healthy manner – walls are built.
Bitterness can stain our relationships. We begin to see others through the lens of the grudge, distrust grows into a stalwart tree and blocks us from experiencing the warmth of other relationships.
Bitterness is the root that grows to become that stalwart tree that cannot be moved. The only way to get rid of bitterness is to UPROOT it. It needs to be completely removed.
How do we do this?
One word – Forgive.
“But, you don’t know what they DID to me! You don’t understand the level of the hurt, or the result of the offense!”
You are right. I can only tell you in my own life what Forgiving someone has done. It has freed me to love again. It opens up the door to reconciliation on my part. It shows another the strength of your character, the depth of your love, and the power of mercy.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool. In any relationship, you will need to utilize this tool especially if you desire to keep these relationships.
It is difficult to understand the magnitude of the power of forgiveness if you do not realize the need for it and how it can help you develop deep meaningful relationships.
When you forgive – or ask for forgiveness – the weight of the offense and the responsibility is now off your shoulders. It frees you to trust others again, understanding that people are imperfect and so are you.
It is a great feeling when a debt you owe has been canceled. Debt can feel like a weight around your neck.
It is the same way with unforgiveness. It is a weight you carry with you.
There is no better way to describe this than to interject in the conversation a topic that I know many may shy away from. It is that of Jesus Christ.
My faith has been the best example to me of what it means to forgive. In my mind it is easy to harbor bitterness. Then I am reminded of how much I have been forgiven of. I have lied, taken jealousy to places it should not have gone, and I have failed others in relationship.
Worst yet, I have failed to follow the greatest instruction ever given – To Love God and Love others as I love myself. Breaking these commands has placed me in the category of someone in need of forgiveness by God. And Jesus bridged that gap in relationship, forgave me and has shown me that it IS possible to live in relationship with others, to have deep meaningful friendships, and to love others as I love myself.
You too can experience this kind of relationship. If you would like to know more about how, please message me at Daniel_Chrystal@yahoo.com.
The bottom line is that forgiveness can uproot bitterness and open the door to deeper relationships with others.
Forgiveness is a LOST ART, but one that can provide wonderful results when exercised.
Thank you so much for continuing to read week after week. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can email me or respond to this post by Commenting below.