I think we can all agree this song was catchy until they played it a million times, and then it became stupidly annoying. Why does this song resonate with me even though I never want to hear it again? Because there are some very big truths in those 6 short words.
If we are really honest with ourselves we have all held onto things that we probably would be better letting go of; toxic friendships, relationships or negative experiences that resulted in us getting hurt in some way. There will come a time when we have to make a choice: will we allow these painful experiences to make us bitter or better? It really is up to us.
This idea of letting go and forgiving someone is such a foreign concept nowadays. People tend to want to seek revenge, justice, or they simply refuse to let go and forgive someone for the hurt they may have inflicted on us. It would be helpful to explain what forgiveness actually is versus what it most certainly is not. I think the confusion in this area is often what can hinder us in actually doing it.
Heres what forgiveness is not
- It doesn’t mean you are saying that whatever was said or done to you was okay and that by forgiving them you are allowing them to getaway with things or “win”.
- It isn’t about waiting till you feel like it, or till they deserve it. Those two things most likely will never happen if we allow our human emotions to dictate our actions.
- It doesn’t guarantee that the one who offended you will automatically become remorseful of what they did – or even desire for your forgiveness in the first place – but this is still not a reason to with hold forgiveness.
- It is not weak to say that you forgive someoone. Somewhere along the line forgiveness became this warped idea that saying you forgive someone makes you weak. Have you ever stopped and thought about how messed up this world is? And the terrible and often tragic events that take place every day leaving peoples worlds forever changed? How hard would it be to actually say “I forgive you” to someone who has caused you immense pain or heartache. I don’t consider it a weak move to extend forgiveness. I see it as a courageous, incredibly hard, but hugely needed act.
- It doesn’t mean that the friendship or relationship with said person will be the same even after forgiveness happens. We are to exhibit caution and make smart choices in how and where we spend time with those who hurt us if this is even possible.
- It is not based on whether the person deserves forgiveness
What It truly means
- It is for the one who was hurt, NOT the other person.
- Choosing to forgive is the person who was wronged to say “I am going to CHOOSE to forgive this person and no longer allow what they did to have any power, control or affect in my life anymore. They no longer have authority over me, my thought, life or future”. It is an act that allows for healing, restoration, freedom and joy to come forth in our lives.
- It is something that is required of us, because God forgives the inexcusable in us, so we need to extend the same towards others. This isn’t easy, fast or instant. It takes time and can be painfully difficult but the pros outweigh the cons.
- It is a choice NOT a feeling and honestly in so many cases now days its an almost impossible one to make. It allows us to let go of the bitterness, hate, rage, and anything else that is not allowing us to live in the fullness God has for our lives.
- When we choose to forgive we are forgiving at the same level that Jesus forgave us all at on the cross. This is no small act! It means to wipe clean and hold no record of wrong against this person any longer.
Some interesting facts about unforgivness and why doing the opposite is good for us
We are actually the ones who actually suffer the most when we choose to hold grudges and refuse to forgive. Researchers are finding out more and more that those who harbor unforgiveness can experience physical and emotional symptoms as a result. Things such as faster heart rates, high blood pressure, headaches, inability to sleep and issues surrounding sleep in general, and cardiovascular issues. It can over time and if left for years result in depression. This alone can cause a whole slew of unfavorable health concerns. Things like losing desire to build relationships in any capacity as it reduces the chance of getting hurt again thus in turn can cause isolation and loneliness. The following symptoms can also appear in our lives over time or become increasingly noticeable in a short space of time. Our muscles can tense up, especially if we are confronted with those who hurt us to the point where it results in headaches, neck, back and limb pain, dizziness and tiredness, we can also suffer issues with our teeth and jaws due to to the clenching of muscles.
There are no doubt more consequences to holding onto things we don’t need to but the thing is WE DON’T HAVE TO!
Benefits of forgiveness
I think that there are are countless benefits of choosing to forgive someone. We can all agree that there have been times in our lives where we have had to get out something that was really difficult to someone, whatever that may have been and how much better felt for doing so right? Well despite the fact forgiveness may seem different it does actually work the same way for our mental and physical health as well as spiritual to do what is needed to heal and move forward.
Being able to let out and PROCESS our hurt, pain, rage, hate, anger and anything else we bottle up has many great benefits. In doing this we can begin the journey of allowing God to take our broken heart and all our pain and hurt and slowly but surely put us back together in ways we could not have allowed for if we were still bitter angry and full of unforgiveness.
So after all this information how do we actually go about forgiving someone? What steps do we take ?
- Take some time to identify your feelings and thoughts on the event or situation that has hurt you. Being able to clearly state what has hurt you will make it easier to get your emotions and thoughts out when you do speak with this person
- It is really up to you if you choose to do this face to face, a email or letter or phone call. There isn’t really a right or wrong way. A helpful thing to do though would be to perhaps write down what you want to say and read it to the person.
- While reiterating that forgiveness is not excusing ones actions or behaviors, it does help to stop and put aside your own pain and hurt and see this person as a broken and flawed human for a second. The saying “hurt people, hurt people” is very true in this area as we can never know what another person has gone through or how they have been impacted, and thus acting out in ways that are damaging and destructive not only to those around them but towards themselves also.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4 31-32
My final thoughts
We can start to live a life where we no longer seek revenge or justice, but we can forgive those who hurt us and continue to demonstrate this is our daily lives. We can let the appropriate people and God Himself deal with what needs to be dealt with. It no longer needs to weigh us down and steal the life God has for us (and it’s a good life ladies!). It’s one that has hope and a purpose, one that will allow for joy to be present even when hard times come. It is a life where we can begin to have compassion for people the way that Jesus does. Whether they deserve it or not isn’t the BIG question, the question is will you follow what God has asked you to do and forgive others the way He has already forgiven you?
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”