Someone has hurt you terribly; cut you to the core and broken your heart. You feel as though you could NEVER forgive them. So, you don’t. You choose to carry the hurt around, wallowing in it now and then, and fantasizing about how to hurt them back. Or, at least, thinking about different ways the situation could have gone in your favor. Imagining yourself walking away with your dignity intact and the perpetrator regretting what they had done.
Unfortunately, it rarely goes the way of our “after the fact” imaginations or we wouldn’t be imagining something different. No. We’ve been hurt and we have to make a choice; hang on to the hurt, ignore it altogether and just pretend it never happened, or let it go and forgive.
Hanging onto the hurt is the most toxic choice, I think. It stays inside your heart and festers. It’s like a parasite that eats you up from the inside; breeding resentment and hatred. It turns very nasty and hurts no one but yourself. As much as you may think that your suffering is somehow punishing the other person; it’s all happening internally and no one feels the pain like you do. The person who hurt you is not suffering at all. They’ve probably gone on their merry way leaving you to do all the suffering. Do you really want to give them that kind of power over you?
Ignoring it and pretending it never happened may sound like the easy solution, but your heart is smarter than that. Your heart has the memory of an elephant and you’re going to have a bit of a fight on your hands trying to ignore your hurt heart. It can be done for spurts of time, but the memory will rear it’s ugly head now and then and you’ll be back at the start. Or, the pain will manifest in other ways; anger, depression, even physical illness. Doesn’t sound so easy after all, does it?
Letting it go and forgiving. This probably sounds like the most difficult and least fun option (we do enjoy a good pity party) and it is. However, it is the most healthy and beneficial option. Unforgiveness enslaves you. Forgiveness sets you free. it doesn’t mean you forget, or even excuse the other person’s behavior. Forgiveness doesn’t even always mean the restoration of the relationship. Forgiveness means that you choose not to hold a grudge. As Dictionary.com puts it, “to cease to feel resentment against“. We choose to feel differently.
“But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.” -1 John 1:9 NLT. Those who call Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives are forgiven their sins. All the bad things that we’ve done in our lives are forgiven by God. We have a clean slate with Him, and anytime we mess up we have only to go to Him in repentance and He is quick to forgive. He is a merciful and compassionate Father. So who are we to not afford our fellow sinners – imperfect humans – the same grace? Regardless of how awful or hurtful, sin is sin and we are all sinners.
As I said, forgiveness is the more difficult option. Especially if the hurt was totally out of the blue and completely unjustified. And it is completely doable. It starts with a choice and a confession to God. Admit to Him your feelings, every last ugly one of them, and tell Him that you’re choosing to forgive. You may need to do this over and over again until your heart goes along with it and you are truly no longer feeling resentful. Nothing worth having comes easy. A healed heart and the freedom that comes with it is WELL worth having!