Forgiveness is essential in any relationship. God commands it. And not only does he command it, He commands that we do it over and over again. I find little trouble in forgiving someone, especially someone I love. If someone asks me to forgive them I will say, “I forgive you.” Just knowing it is God’s command is enough for me.
What I do struggle with is what comes after forgiveness. After the offender is set free with forgiveness I am left with this hurt that I find difficult to stop thinking about. And you can say “forgive and forget” but it is just impossible. Just because I forgave someone does not mean that all is erased and everything is as if nothing happened in the first place. I struggle with that. I wonder if anyone else does, too.
What happens when I struggle with forgetting the past? I think about it. I wake up thinking about it. I go to sleep thinking about it. When I see the person who hurt me in the first place those original feelings of anger and hurt bubble up again even though all has been forgiven. Any of this starting to sound familiar?
Now those feelings are back and I begin to think about what my flesh would have liked to say instead of “I forgive you.” I start to think of what I should have done to make myself feel better instead of saying “I forgive you.” I begin to resent that person for ever asking me to forgive them. I feel angry that they no longer have to deal with this but I am still struggling with the effects of it. I feel angry that this doesn’t continue to cause them pain, too. Am I beginning to get close?
The truth is, whether we want to admit it or not, we have probably all struggled with these feelings at one point or another. But it is not spiritual to talk about how we feel after forgiveness. After all, we are to forgive and forget, right? Well, let me talk to you about what happened to me after forgiveness. Well, I guess I already have. Everything I described above I have felt personally. And it hurts. It is heavy. It is sadness. And it brings me down. I bring myself down when I allow those feelings to rule.
I had to come to a point where I chose not to think about it. I didn’t allow myself. This took practice. I would put on the tv or music. I would start a conversation with someone. I would not allow my mind to reenact the whole situation over again. Make no room for the devil.
I would purposely show acts of love to the individual that hurt me. This helped the most. I found ways to show them that I still loved them and that I wasn’t going to let what happened stand between our friendship. Because, let’s be honest, every moment that I am harboring that anger I am putting more distance between myself and the “offender.”
I waited. You can’t instantly get rid of these feelings. And if you are on the offending side you shouldn’t expect your friend or spouse or whoever it is to instantly feel fine about what happened. Give it time. And time does heal if you are taking the above steps to help the healing. Time, in itself, won’t do it.
I prayed. You can’t expect to fight feelings like anger, hurt, jealousy, etc on your own. You simply need the Lord’s help. And praise the Lord He is ready, willing, and fully capable to help us out of the miry clay and set our feet on a rock.
I am so thankful to say that I am in the “waiting” stage. I used to be praising the Lord hour by hour that I didn’t think about it. Now, by His grace, I am praising the Lord as month to month I can go without ever thinking about what happened to me.
Let’s be honest now. Where are you at?