That's always a big topic. Forgiveness is something most everyone I know has an issue with giving as well as receiving, which always strikes me as odd because God forgives us instantly when we ask with the right heart. It's difficult for us to accept God's forgiveness because we feel guilty. It's difficult for us to GIVE forgiveness to those that hurt or wrong us because we may not FEEL like forgiving them.
All in all, this forgiveness business is a mess.
I recently found that I was harboring unforgiveness for someone I see at least 5 days a week (at work). For the last couple of weeks, every time we got on a topic where we (clearly) don't see eye to eye or have the same values, I could feel my chest tightening. One day, my right arm started to tingle.
I'm no doctor, but I was raised by a Registered Nurse and I know that that tingeling is not a good sign. This past Tuesday, I went to my women's group at church where we discussed forgiveness. I have walked in the light of forgiveness, in the light of giving it and feeling the relief of it, so I was excited about the topic. The following day, however, when I felt my chest tightening while having a conversation with my friend, I realized that I was holding onto unforgiveness for her.
So I simply told her that I just realized that I was holding onto unforgiveness for her, and no I didn't want to talk about it (how many times had we discussed it in the past and only ended up crying and leaving mad? Too many to count...), but I'm bringing it into the light so I can allow God to deal with it.
She was rendered a little speechless. I was as well.
So I started going over the notes from my women's group and came across a couple of things I wanted to post here.
~Forgiving someone is not saying their actions are right or ok, you are simply releasing yourself from the hold that person has on you and giving them over to God.
This reminds me of something I read in "The Shack". A very good book.
~Forgiveness is not just about saying the words, but putting action behind them
~Stop wishing something could have been different in your past.
~Lose the edge in your voice and attitude - the edge of pride. "Well, I forgave that person so I'm better than they are."
No. You. Aren't.
~Choose to not engage in negative conversation. Don't put people down for what they want to discuss, just don't engage or allow yourself to become engaged in a pitty party or angry rant fest.
~Unforgiveness can be one big boulder, but it can also be the little things.
~Your child is not acting like you expect him/her to.
~That dude in traffic that cut you off or tailgated you.
~Your boss didn't say good morning to you.
~Your coworkers don't appreciate anything you do...
Through out all of that, I was wondering something. "HOW do I forgive?" Well, I have notes on that too!
G: Give it to God. Your problems may be bigger than you, but they certainly aren't too big for God!
R: Remember you have been forgiven.
A: Accept God's teaching. What is God trying to teach you through all the negativity? It can be difficult to see through all of that to see the goodness of God, but it's there.
C: Capture your thoughts. Whenever a negative thought comes to mind, even the ones that won't let you go no matter how much you try to push it away, capture it! And don't just capture it, but find a scripture focus that you can replace it with that is the complete opposite of what that negative/bad thought is. (I may start posting some of the ones I use to get me through the negative thoughts that bombard me.)
E: Experience Freedom. When you have overcome the negative thoughts and the negative people, and have truly forgiven those in your life that have hurt you, you will feel a weight drop off of your shoulders that you may well feel like you could float.
I can tell you, from recent personal experience, that just knowing that I was holding onto unforgiveness for my friend and giving the situation over to God helped me feel like some huge weight had dropped clean off me. The thing about it is that my unforgiveness isn't just a matter of one thing, it's three YEARS of built up crud that I need to work on. Every day I ask God to reveal something about it to me, and, you know what? He never fails to do just that. I have a better understanding today on why exactly I was holding onto a grudge than I did the day I discovered I had it.
One last note before I let this Friday roll.
Forgiveness is not based on merit, it is based on GRACE.
Have a wonderfully blessed weekend my friends! In Him <3