“Why can’t I just forgive and forget what happened?”
Many of us understand that the Bible is very clear about how we are to forgive others so we can be forgiven.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV).
“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37 NKJV).
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Colossians 3:13-14 NKJV).
So why can’t we just forgive? We want to walk in obedience to the Word of God, but why is this one instruction so difficult to do?
And at times we do it over and over and over—the 70 times 7 concept. We find this in Matthew 18:21-22:
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
We forgive, then something happens again. Then again, we forgive. The cycle keeps spinning around and around. Why can’t it just stop?
My friends, I have been on this cycle and finally I found an answer that got me off the unwanted merry-go-round.
To stop the unforgiveness spin cycle, I learned to honestly acknowledge the hurt and pain caused by the person I needed to forgive.
More often than not in the process of forgiveness, I attempted to just forget what happened even happened. Oh well, I forgive so I won’t even think of it anymore.
Well whenever I applied the “forgive and forget” approach, eventually something would happen that either triggered the memory or the offense was repeated again. Then all the negative emotions flared back up.
When negative emotions—such as anger, anxiety, bitterness, resentment, and hatred—surface in connection to an event or a person that’s a sign that unforgiveness remains in the heart.
We need to be alert to the emotional road signs as they indicate that there is a heart issue that needs to be resolved with the Lord.
For example, last week as I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed I came across a post with a news media link that two juveniles were arrested in connection to the Tennessee wildfires. I clicked on it to read more about it. When I did, comments were already being made. When I read the comments, I began to feel anxious about it. The comments were about how the juveniles needed to be charged and convicted as adults.
Well as the mother of a convict, it brought back a flood of memories of when my son’s case went to trial the news media posted a very slanted news report and then people made vitriolic comments based only on what they read in that report when that report did not report the whole truth.
So when I read the comments against the juveniles, information had not been released yet as to how or why they even started the fire. Just that they were arrested. I felt defensive and wanted to do something. Then I posted a prayer request in a private group to pray for the families of the juveniles as well as those who were affected by the fire.
Sometime after I posted the prayer request, the Lord showed me how I posted it with the wrong motive in my heart. Not that praying for someone is bad, but my motives for posting it were wrong.
I realized that I still held unforgiveness in my heart toward the people who made comments against my son on the news and social media sites.
Once I accepted this realization, I acknowledged the hurt to the Lord and the Lord showed me that Jesus was also ridiculed by the public when He was arrested, taken to trial, and even when He hung on the cross with His life seeping out of Him. That’s when He spoke, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Jesus released His hurts and forgave them.
Following Jesus’ example, I released the hurts to the Lord and forgave those people who made those comments. Now when I see those types of comments on the news and social media sites, I see them from a different perspective. One that knows that they do not understand what they are saying or doing. And I ask the Lord to forgive them.
Do I forget? Not really. The memory is embedded in my mind. But when that memory is recalled, I no longer feel the hurt.
When Jesus was beaten and hung on the cross, He did that for our sake so that we may be healed. Healed not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too.
“who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NKJV).
When we need to forgive someone, we let the Lord know we choose to forgive that person, but also ask the Lord to heal the hurts in our heart. When we do, we receive the healing and release from the unforgiveness spin cycle.
Father God, I come humbly before you today. I acknowledge that I have hurts in my heart and I choose to forgive [person’s name] for [name the act committed that caused the hurt]. Lord, I forgive myself for holding unforgiveness in my heart. Father, I ask You to heal the hurt in my heart. Lord, I desire to receive Your healing and be released from the unforgiveness spin cycle. In Jesus name, Amen.
© 2016 Shonda Savage
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