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3 Things God Has Been Teaching Me About Forgiveness Lately

One of the very first posts I wrote on the blog was about forgiveness, and honestly, I thought I had it down. I'd released so much and gotten so far, until another wave of hurt smacked me in the face and overwhelmed me. These were two completely different situations, with completely different people and different levels of pain, but the struggle to release the pain I was or have been holding onto is the same.

I'm most definitely not qualified enough to write this post and tell you exactly how to forgive, because I'm learning it myself. I don't have it all figured out, but I am learning a lot, and the lessons God is teaching me right now are genuinely changing my heart for the good, and I want to share that with you.

I don't know what hurt you're holding onto right now, what pain you're wrestling with and struggling to let go of. I don't know what's holding you back from moving on or your exact situation, but first and foremost, here's what I do know:

Jesus loves you so very much, sweet friend. He loves you so much and He has a better way for you. He wants to walk with you through this struggle and help you enter into a place of freedom, joy, and peace like never before. He wants to lift off these chains of unforgiveness and pain you've been carrying and show you that you don't have to hold onto it or hide it forever. He's got you, if you'll just let Him hold you.

1. Forgiveness is not a one time thing, and it's not usually fast.

I keep saying healing isn't linear, but it's so true, and the same is with forgiveness. To wholeheartedly forgive someone requires us to repeatedly surrender them to Jesus and lay down the hurt. Forgiveness requires us to unbury whatever we've been trying to hide and bring it into the light so that through His strength alone, we can release it and be freed of it.

And as much as I wish it would be a one time thing, oftentimes, we have to repeatedly forgive and surrender. The hurt and anger (or whatever else we may be feeling) doesn't go away in an instant, and so we must continually keep running to Jesus with all of it.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”'Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'" - Matthew 18:21-22

This can be so discouraging, because we love our quick fixes. We live in a world of fast food and next day shipping, but that's not the way forgiveness works. To truly, truly release whatever we've been holding onto and move on from it, we have to wrestle with it time and time again. The good thing is, though, that this whole journey is with Jesus, and He is using it to refine us and strengthen our faith.

2. Forgiveness is not something you can do on your own.

Our human tendency is to hold onto the pain someone else has caused us and get revenge. We want to hurt them as much as they hurt us, or at least understand the pain they've inflicted on us. As I've tried and tried to let go of this on my own and forgive these people by myself, I notice that I keep slipping into bitterness and unforgiveness.

Because I can't do it by myself.

These are wounds that only Jesus can heal, and by His grace, He will give me the strength to let it all go and surrender the hurt. It's not something I can muster up or "fake it till I make it"; it can only be done through His strength.

And oftentimes, I get irritated when I keep slipping into that bitterness. I think to myself, "I must be failing, I thought I should be more healed or move on faster than this!" But again, there's no timeline, and oftentimes I feel this way when I try to take control of the journey instead of letting Jesus have the wheel. It's so important that we allow Christ to really work in our hearts instead of relying on ourselves to get it done.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." - Philippians 3:14

3. Showing the other person grace is not validating their behavior, but it is saying, "I'm human, you're human, and you hurt me because someone hurt you."

As I've battled with this topic of forgiveness, sometimes I'll think, "They don't deserve to be forgiven, God! Do you know how they hurt me?" Actually, yes He does.

And I don't deserve to be forgiven either.

I don't deserve what Jesus did on the cross, and I don't deserve the grace He lavishes on me each and every day. But He chooses to forgive me, over and over and over again. And if I want to continue to be more like Him, continue to be refined and heal, then I have to choose the same thing too.

By understanding that no one in the situation is better or worse than anyone else, and that we're all hurting people, it allows us room to show grace. It helps us step back and remember that we're all humans here, and we all need Jesus. It's not excusing their behavior or undermining any of the ways that they hurt you, but it is releasing your control over the situation and your desire for revenge into the only One who is the righteous judge, perfect in every way.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." - Ephesians 4:32

4. Choosing not to forgive will only lead to more pain.

You've probably heard it before, but holding onto that unforgiveness hurts you more than the person who hurt you in the first place. It's an ugly thing that will only swallow up your joy and your peace, and no one wants to live that way. To continue to harbor that bitterness and unforgiveness is to continue to allow that person to have control over your thoughts and feelings, and give them power over you. And that's not what any of us want, is it?

So let's let it go. Let's surrender it. Let's walk in the freedom and joy that Christ has for us, unhindered by bitterness or unforgiveness, so that we can love and forgive freely. It's not an easy thing, but as we choose to lay it down at Christ's feet, we'll realize the hope and intimacy that we'll find with Jesus along the way.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15


I've started praying, "God, help me to forgive them so that I can see them with as much love and grace as You see me. Help me to forgive them so that I can love them in whatever capacity You want me to. And help me to forgive them so that I can be free again." The truth is, not releasing whatever pain you're holding onto will hurt you more than it will hurt them, and it will ruin you. I know from experience that harboring that pain steals my joy, my confidence, and my peace - and it's not fun. It's a hard, hard thing to struggle with because it takes root in the soil of your heart, and the longer that it grows, unchecked or addressed, the harder it is to pull it out.

But it's never too late.

Today, Jesus is inviting you on this journey. He wants to help you forgive the people who have hurt you and surrender the bitterness you've allowed to develop in your heart. He wants to show you the abundant life He has planned, but only if you allow Him to do the hard heart work of teaching you to forgive and let it go.

Will you let Him?


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