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My Forgiveness Journey: What I Learned



I am what you could call a sensitive soul.


I feel things very deeply. I feel your joy, your celebration, but also your pain and suffering. My heart gets bruised very easily. And (as much as I hate to admit it), I have a hard time letting go of my hurt sometimes.


Lately, God has been showing me exactly how much hurt I've been holding on to, and how badly it's affected my spiritual life, my relationships with others, as well as my joy. You know how they say staying angry only hurts you? Well, it's true.


I can't tell you my heart is completely free of all bitterness and unforgiveness and that I'm just one happy happy girl who isn't still hurt by things that have been said. It's just not true. God is still working on my heart, but I want you to know that you are not alone in this forgiveness journey.


One of the hardest parts about my forgiveness journey is that I struggle to communicate with people why I'm hurt. I just feel hurt and mad and upset, but putting that pain into words is hard. It made me feel isolated and alone, like no one understood what I was going through. I began stuffing my feelings, and it only made matters worse. The pain was still there, but no one saw it; the pain was still there, but it was buried so deep that I thought it would hurt worse and take too much time to dig out.


Yeah, it hurt. Tears were shed. But there was a lot of reconciliation. There was a lot of getting my joy back. There was a lot of growth and "thank You God for how far You've brought me". It was worth it. If your on your forgiveness journey right now, or you know you need to start the trek, I want you to remember that you aren't alone. I want to encourage you to keep seeking God because He will help you find your joy again, He will help you in the midst of the tears and pain, and He will always be your faithful shoulder to lean on when you feel surrounded by the hurt. God is constant and good, even when people are not. Here are a few things that I have learned on my forgiveness journey that I want to share with you, dear friend.


1. You don't have to hide your feelings, suppress them, or try to validate them.


God sees your hurt and your pain and He knows it's hard. His heart breaks when your heart breaks. So pour it all out to God in worship, prayer, journaling, art, or whatever floats your boat because He wants to hear it. You don't have to explain away your emotions or cover it up, because God already knows. But He wants to have that conversation with you because He cares. And trust me, you will feel so much freer after laying that burden down before God.


When we say "forgiveness journey", it might sound like I'm telling you to just let go of your bitterness and unforgiveness and move on with your life. But that is not at all what I'm saying. That hurt exists, and it is very, very real. I know. So you have permission to feel what you are feeling and recognize that it hurts a lot. It's a journey of forgiving and joyfully releasing, not of stuffing or throwing away.


"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved." - Psalms 55:22


"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7


2. Every person is facing their own struggles. No one is perfect, so you don't have to try to be.


I know I am not alone in the struggle of comparison. It harbored a lot of bitterness in my heart. Yours too? It's so easy though, isn't it? Seeing all the perfect pictures with perfectly smiling faces. Or hearing the stories of what happened over the weekend while you laid at home alone in your pajamas. It's hard! But when I realized that behind every smiling face, behind every perfect photo, behind every perfectly social weekend, there is almost always a hurting heart. A struggle or fear or lack that you have no idea is going on. When I realized this; realized that she wasn't perfect so I could stop trying to be, it gave me the freedom to let go of that bitterness towards that person. She wasn't setting the standard of my life!


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33


"For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23


3. Recognize what you have and the good that has come out of the pain.


One of the best practical lessons God taught me was to learn to recognize how He has brought blessing through the pain. I have made a note in my phone titled "grace upon grace" where I recognize who hurt me, how they did it, but most importantly, the good that has come from that situation. It is life changing, girl. When I saw the good and the blessing and the growth that has come from that pain, I was able to let go of some of my hurt and anger.


Maybe your heartache has brought you closer to someone you have grown to love. Maybe your pain drew you closer to God and led you to pray more. Or maybe most importantly, God is teaching you so many lessons through the hurt.


"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28


"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." - Genesis 50:20


 

The journey to forgiveness and freedom from the hurt is a hard one. It's not instant, or a one time and done situation. But it is so worth it in the end. There is so much growth and joy that God has in store for you. Keep praying and trusting, dear friend, because there is hope at the end of the tunnel.


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