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How Do I Forgive?

You have been hurt so badly you are wondering, "How do I forgive?" We are so programmed to bury our true feelings that we never really let go of them, not realizing that these hurts will eventually begin to creep into our actions: We are sent "over the edge" with no control of our emotions, lashing out at those who love us.

That's exactly what happened to me. Rather than being the loving wife I wanted to be, I would lose control and go "over the edge." I hated those who hurt me so much! I prayed God would send them to burn in Hell! The bitter memories of being molested and raped continued to creep into my mind, and were choking the peace from my life. How do you forgive someone for something like that? I would become depressed, or get mad at the world. I just couldn't control how I reacted. Sometimes I yelled in anger, and my family would look at me with fear-filled eyes. I was completely blind. I would think to myself, "What's wrong with them?" I never thought for a moment that I might actually be the problem. I didn't know it at the time, but my anger was coming from deep in my past. My life was filled with silent secrets. I thought, "I'm okay with my past," all the while mulling over old hurts in my mind. I was afraid to open my heart to anyone, so I continued in a tailspin of bad moods, a critical spirit and a bad attitude, especially toward my husband and kids. My raging emotions were caused by wounds I wasn't willing to look at. I needed to see what was in my heart, then I could begin to deal with the anger.



Time to Forgive

I was tired of being filled with malice. I was ready to trust God with my hurts; I needed a new beginning. When I finally got real with God, truly seeing what was in my sinful heart, His grace and forgiveness flooded in, changing my heart toward those who had hurt me. He showed me that I was hanging on to the hurts others had committed against me; I had become infected with the deadly poison of bitterness. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders when I finally chose to be healed and set free. Forgiving those who molested and raped me didn't make those crimes any less wrong, but forgiving them allowed me to have what I needed-a right relationship with Jesus. I traded my hurt for wholeness in Him.



Forgiveness

Even after I started the journey to become healed and set free, the effects of my past hurts were such a part of my life that I continued to overreact. I didn't know any other way to react, so I would just blow up. Still, I knew it was sinful to act this way, and I was afraid my kids would grow up seeing me as a hypocrite. I realized I must live out my faith, and the best way was to have a strong daily walk with God. That's when I cried out for God to help me put an end to my destructive behavior. I couldn't continue to tell others, "Do as I say, not as I do," so I started praying daily for self-control. That's when real change began. I confessed it as a sin each time I lost control, and asked God to cut the destruction out of my life. Do you see the progression? Sin led to confession, which led to change and purification. As 1 John 3:3 says, "...Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."



Tools for Change

"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).

  • SEE: Why am I letting myself get so upset? Either I'm not trusting God or I am holding a grudge toward another person.
  • GIVE: I have to give my struggle of uncontrolled anger to God in prayer daily.
  • FORGIVE: Every time I lose control, I must apologize to God, and then to my husband, my kids or whomever my anger affects. I will begin to practice self-control, one day at a time.
  • BE SET FREE: I'll still have stress, disappointments and failure, but now I can choose to act or react in a godly way, and ask for forgiveness when I get it wrong.