Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. –Ephesians 4:31-32
One thing that my husband and I have taught our children is to always apologize and forgive when needed. It is not always easy, and teaching them to forgive and actually mean it is a whole different story. My son does this easier than my teenage daughter. Getting them to really forgive has been hard. It has helped to remind them of Ephesians 4:32. To know that we should forgive others because God forgave us is thought provoking.
This past year, as I was looking for a counselor, I got a call from someone from who was related to the man who abused me. It was a very hard phone call to take and I was very quiet until the shock wore off. I finally told this person to not contact me anymore.
As I was going through counseling, I went through all of the emotions of my past as if they had just happened. I also realized that the person who contacted me was very much a part of my abuse as she would put me in harm’s way if I didn’t do what this man wanted me to do. She would be the one who would sic the dog on me; she would be the one to coerce me into this. I also found out if she didn’t, the man would do the same to her. So I was her scapegoat.
About a month later, I received a message on my Facebook page. It was a nice message telling me how they were praying for me and hoped I was getting the help I needed. I have to admit, that really pushed my buttons!
It is not easy for me to forgive someone who has hurt me. It is not easy to forgive someone who has hurt my family. It is easy to put it behind us and continue to hold that grudge. To tell people, “I don’t like so and so, because they did this to me.” That causes dissension between the people.
I took quite some time to write the person back. When I did, I wrote the words, “I can, through God’s help, forgive your family”. As soon as those words were written I felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. I felt a freedom that I’ve never felt before. The reward of forgiving was peace and freedom.
Does this mean I have to confront people to forgive them? Do I wait until they apologize? No, not at all!!! I have never been apologized to for my abuse. Yet, I forgave. It also doesn’t mean you have to run everyone who has hurt you and tell them you forgive them.
It also doesn’t mean that you have to be friends with them. God does sometimes put the people back into your life, not always though. This doesn’t mean you continue to be bitter toward them, but be Christ-like toward them. Love them with the love of God. When Satan brings up the past, forgive the person again. It is a daily process at times, but you can do it.
My challenge for you this week is to really forgive someone who has hurt you. If you talk with them, or not, get down on your knees and ask God to help you forgive with the same forgiveness that He has given you. Then either call that person, or write it down in a journal or letter, and forgive them.
I thank you today for dying on the cross for my sins, for forgiving me when You didn’t have to. Thank you for those who are reading this and making changes in their lives to become more like You. Father, I ask as they are forgiving others, you bring a freedom to their lives as You have brought me. I ask this in Jesus name, Amen.