We all have wounds.
Not long ago, my wound got stomped on by people close to me. Things were said. The message conveyed felt like a snub, and it stung. My first response was to leave the situation.
I moved on from the incident, but that re-opened wound festered, leaving me stinking on the inside, insecure in my thinking, and holding onto a grudge. My first thought was to ignore the pain caused by words.
But, ignoring rarely heals.
And, in my case, ignoring paved the way for bitterness. It doesn’t take long for bitterness to creep in and dig roots down deep into a heart.
Recently, our pastor shared about Jonah and how he responded to God’s decision to forgive the Ninevites after they repented from their sin. God’s example of forgiveness was as much for Jonah as it was for the Ninevites.
As I listened, I began to squirm. The faces of the people who had hurt me flashed across my mind.
Jonah didn’t remember the grace God gave him . . .
. . . when he ran away on a ship bound the opposite direction from where God instructed him to travel.
. . . when he chose death over obedience.
And yeah, God dealt with that, didn’t He?
Spending three days in the belly of a large marine animal is an experience I’d rather forego.
The Lord showed me I couldn’t move closer to Him in our relationship with all this in my heart. He wouldn’t bless the work of my hands or allow me to move forward in some endeavors if I chose to cling to unforgiveness.
We can’t hold onto our dreams and onto unforgiveness. We need to be willing to release that hurt, that pain, that wound into His hands. Then our hands are free to hold the dreams He gives us.
As I considered the people who hurt me, God gave me His eyes to view them as He does—as His creations. God’s forgiven them. Who am I to hold onto their offense?
How do we move beyond the pain of our wounds being stomped on?
Here are five things I’ve learned when it comes to releasing offenses:
- Forgiveness begins by acknowledging to God the hurts we’ve held onto. We must confess our sin of unforgiveness in humility.
- Evaluate if we’ve misinterpreted someone’s words or actions. There are times when we filter words or actions inaccurately. It’s important to pray and ask God to show us His perspective. If there’s a genuine offense, perhaps we need to talk with that person and work things out. If we received things inaccurately, we need to bring that before the Lord and ask for His perspective on the matter.
- As many times as our thoughts drift back to the offense, we need to turn them over to the Lord, to ask for His help in letting go of it. For me, this is a constant choosing to remember I’ve handed the hurt over to Him, a continual releasing of the pain into God’s hands.
- Remind ourselves we’ve chosen forgiveness. We’ve chosen to let go of the “right” to get even, the right to hold onto the hurt.
- Taking this a brave step further, choose to love as Jesus does, to the extent that is safe for us. And we need to love knowing the other person may never change. This may or may not mean trying to build a relationship with those who have hurt us. God needs to be the Guide in that decision. But, choosing to have a heart that’s open to loving those who have hurt us reflects Jesus in a way little else can.
Forgiveness is an ongoing choosing to let go.
It’s only as we relinquish the pain into God’s hands that we find healing for our wounds.
And it’s only as we release our grip on the offense that we can have both hands open to receive God’s grace and whatever else He has for us.
This process takes time and deliberate action in our thoughts and hearts.
And, as for the people who stomped on my wound, I’m working through the process of letting go. I’m setting thought-boundaries in place, but I’m also asking the Lord to help me love them bravely.
What about you? What helps you choose to forgive when the pain of an offense stomps on one of your wounds? What’s one way you love well?
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