Written with: TENDERNESS
anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord
forgave you, so you must forgive others.
~ Colossians 3:13 NLT
Imagine having a conversation with one of your friends, and he/she brings up a topic that reminds you of something you thought you were over. Physically, your heart rate increases, and you start trembling. Emotionally, you become anxious and resentful. And verbally, your voice is now raised or you start crying or swearing. This, indeed, is a tell-tale sign that you have not forgiven.
Naturally, because time has elapsed, we are inclined to think we are over the situation, only to find out we are not. We begrudgingly admit we don’t know where to start in the forgiving/healing process. We have all been here. It is hard to forgive when you feel you have every right to be angry. But as many books and counselors will tell us, forgiving others is not about the other person, it is about us because 1) God wants us to forgive (and love). 2) We are holding on to an unhealthy emotion. And 3) Forgiveness frees our spirits and gives us peace.
How do we go about forgiving so we can be healed from the pain?
~Recognize It’s the Devil~
We wrote in our “The Devil is Real” blog, that the Devil is very good at knowing everything about us. He knows what makes us smile, sad, angry, etc. His mission in our lives is to set up situations that take us outside the will of God and to destroy relationships ― with God and others. Of course, we do not see this because it’s too up close and personal. However, once we take a step back and assess the situation, we can see it clearly. Yes, a physical person inflicted the pain. Yes, a real-life setting made it hard to sleep at night. But the Devil needs vessels to carry out his plans. And he knows just the right person and set-up to do it.
~Understand Morals/Opinions Differ~
Not everyone has the same morals and values. Nor do we share the same opinions on a given subject. What makes one person anxious at the thought may just be a random, nonchalant situation to another. Or, one might have been taught growing up that respect is a number one principle, while another may have lived in a house where disrespect ran rampant. The bottom-line is we have to understand that everyone does not think the same way we do. So naturally, hurt will occur. Sometimes it’s unintentional and unfortunately, sometimes it’s intentional.
~Acknowledge Our Responsibility~
As validating as it is to blame others for our pain, at some point, we have to take responsibility. Not so much for the action, but rather, the reaction. No one can ever force us to behave or think a certain way. There is always a choice. We can choose to lash out, walk away or kindly let the person know what we will and will not put up with. Regardless of how we do it, we have a choice. Too often, we blame other people for putting us in difficult situations to be defensive or to get hurt. While they do own the first half of this equation (the problem), we are responsible for the other half (the solution). Especially if they are not trying to be a part of it.
Boundary setting is the hardest thing to do when we are not used to self-love. We often feel guilty for telling others what we will or will not accept. We also fear their responses. Learning to set boundaries does not mean we have to alter our personalities to be who we are not. It simply means we love ourselves enough to kindly teach others how to treat and respect us. When we identify our boundaries and enforce them, we communicate to others that we love and respect ourselves and would appreciate if they did the same.
So how do all these steps help us to forgive?
- Recognizing that it’s really the Devil behind the offense allows the animosity towards the person to subside as we focus more on the actual problem ― not letting the Devil win.
- Understanding that morals/opinions differ helps us to see that it might not be such a blatant harm. And even if it is, knowing our differences in values and opinions is not a reflection of us, rather of them.
- Acknowledging our responsibilities helps us to focus on our roles, instead of the wrongdoings. It focuses on the solution rather than the problem. And with this, forgiveness will be a natural recourse.
- Developing boundaries is an action performed after you have taken some responsibility. It is what helps drive the healing process. When you define your boundaries, you feel more in control of your emotions, rather than allowing someone else to control or define them. And when others no longer have control over our emotions, forgiveness has taken root. Now, we can have that conversation with our friend without getting bent out of shape. Praise God!
Please, Lord, help us on our forgiving journeys. It is not easy, so we lean on You for help and guidance. Help us to understand it’s the Devil’s schemes, and we should focus more on defeating him rather than our offenders. Help us to see others as human beings who make mistakes (both intentional and unintentional) against their better judgment. Help us to understand our roles in the process, so we can move forward in the healing and forgiving process.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.