The Power of Forgiveness
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matt. 614–15).
Forgiveness: isn’t it a beautiful word‽ It’s full of freedom. Hearts once held captive by harsh thoughts and wound licking are freed through forgiveness to sweetly soar. It’s full of freshness. The foul clutter of hoarded hurts is replaced with new starts. It’s full of future. Instead of being snared and snagged by remembrance of things formerly gone bad, forgiveness grants the forgiver blue horizons.
Holding on to the wrong someone else did to me is almost always unilateral. I mean, I’m the only one that keeps that memory fresh. My supposed “antagonist” may not even know the mental agony I am in as I review it in my mind. So, while I am stuck feeling hurt, betrayed, or angry, he/she has no mental fog over the incident. Grudge holding only hurts me.
Forgiveness, therefore, sets me free from the torment of reliving/replaying the event. Isn’t it amazing how we hurt ourselves and blame others? That which “he” did one time can become the “little movie” I watch a hundred times (in my grudge-induced memory). I can even replay the scene a thousand times and feel the pain of the incident, but the reality is that “he” only hurt me once, the other thousand times are on me. I did that to myself. I’m the one who chose to remember! Forgiveness allows me to ban the “little movie” so that I do not continue to play it and keep on hurting myself.
“What about the one who hurt me,” you might ask, “Shouldn’t he have to pay?” Of course he should; but how? Maybe he could “pay” by having an adult, heart-to-heart conversation with you in which you talk things through, each acknowledging your own missteps, and he apologizes. That would be the best solution. But don’t let his lack of acknowledgement keep you from freeing yourself through forgiveness.
Understand this up front: you have no ability to extract revenge or retribution without becoming the thing you hate; becoming a person with a stony heart. It is God’s business to judge people; and it is our business to forgive. Never let the possibility of that person “getting away with it” keep you from freeing your heart from the bitterness of contempt, grudge-holding, or vendetta. Trust God for His ultimate justice and release your burdened soul through forgiveness.
As you read these things, there could be a name or two filtering into you mind. Some past unresolved issue with each person is souring your heart. Turn it loose. “Forgive” means “send it away.” Quit holding on to what hurts you. Send it far from you. If you need to, write the offense on a slip of paper; then burn the paper while clearly saying it: “I forgive you.” Let your heart fly.