When you’re wounded, forgiveness is one of the last things you’re excited about doing. You might want to heal your wounded heart, but forgive?
Instead, anger surfaces. Indignation appears. Outrage over what’s happened takes center stage. Or, you hide and tuck yourself away while tears fill your days.
May I share a piece of encouragement here? It might surprise you, but I hope you’ll keep reading.
Forgiveness may not be the thing to do.
Feeling the burden to do what’s “supposed” to be done can cripple us from experiencing freedom for what can be done, over time.
Forgiveness as a Gift
As powerful, necessary, freeing, and beautiful as forgiveness is, the process is often messy and happens in stages.
Consider holding the beautify of forgiveness in one hand, as a gift to open, while also attending to the reality of your emotions, healing journey, and current circumstances in the other. The tension might not feel great, but it may also provide a path for healing.
In the midst of damaging circumstances, the pressure to forgive because it’s the right thing to do, might keep you from truthfully facing what’s hard to see. When someone is actively harming you, or you’re in the middle of a situation where wrong needs acknowledgment, admit what’s true about current patterns.
Identify and address what’s going on first. Speak up where needed. Let forgiveness come later. The gift of forgiveness waits for you.
Sometimes, our rush to forgive becomes more about being a good Christian and getting it right than about seeing God bring the breakthrough and healing. As a result, we might miss the power of letting anger move us to right wrongs that need addressing.
Ultimately, the outcome of every injustice is in God’s hands. We need to trust that. But rushing to forgiveness might keep us from experiencing His righteousness at work.
Receive So You Can Forgive
Forgiveness is powerful. It’s needed. It’s biblical. It’s given to us, freely and in abundance. Out of what we’ve received, we can give to others. But sometimes, it’s hard to take it in. What God’s already provided doesn’t sink in.
Maybe, that’s where forgiveness starts? By receiving His healing touch, His compassion, His care, and His guidance in the places where hurt happened.
A wounded heart can’t give what they don’t have.
If you’re struggling with forgiveness, ask God what He wants you to receive.
Ask and You Shall Receive
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ~ Matthew 7:7-8
We might not even know what to ask, beyond the retribution we seek and God-fixes for what we’ve experienced.
Reflective questions help us explore our hearts and God’s heart for us. They provide room for receiving.
What’s He saying to you today? Is there something He wants you to know about your present situation? About your current challenges, the past that may impact the present. Or about your future hope?
Asking God to speak, and making space to hear from Him opens up our hearts to hear what He has to say. About who we are. Who He is. And here’s the tricky, sometimes gut-twisting truth we need to consider too. He might reveal truth about who others are, including those who’ve harmed us.
Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets are a great way to engage with God about the hurt spaces in your heart. It helps you hear and respond, while acknowledging the truth of what’s happening, what you’re thinking, and how you’re feeling.
Facing How God Sees You, Him, and Others
If God values us as His creation, designed to reflect His image, He’s designed others that way too. They may not be living out of that design right now. Distortions may have taken over the way they see the world and you, but that doesn’t mean you have to see things that way too.
You don’t have to engage in relationship with someone who doesn’t acknowledge and change their destructive ways, but it is possible to see them differently so their destruction doesn’t continue in you.
As you press in to God, and seek His voice speaking into your life, He may speak to you about how you view the one who’s wronged you. Or, how you view yourself. Even, how you view Him.
Revelations here may be scary and hard to face. Real or perceived wrongs have a way of sticking with us and the enemy will do all he can to twist our views so that all we see is the wrong. Not the one who is Righteous.
Facing how God sees all, including how he sees us and others, may open the door to forgiveness.
Choosing to Forgive When It’s Hard to Do
The wounds pounding ferociously inside of you may have begun long ago. Long before the person did what they did. Or the circumstances fell when and where they did. Let the emotions that surface work their way through so they don’t get stuck inside.
Forgiving others is a process that may take time. Especially when someone invalidates hurts and long-standing pain fills your heart. Allow space within you to hold forgiveness as a gift, and unwrap the layers as God brings them before you.
If you’re declaring that you’ll never forgive someone, may a share another word of encouragement? How about declaring your need for God to show you what step you can take today. Let the coming days unfold as He leads.
Choosing forgiveness takes courage. It requires humility to let God be God and manage how justice unfolds.
What does your forgiveness journey look like, dear one? Where ever you’re at, I’m praying for courage today.
For more on forgiveness, what it is and what it isn’t, please click below for the article on iBelieve.
Also, don’t miss this powerful article on forgiveness when you’ve experienced trauma and/or betrayal. It’s written by Dr. Sherri Keffer, a counselor and betrayal trauma specialist.Untangling Grief, Trauma, and Forgiveness by Dr. Sherri Keffer
- 9 Things You Need to Know About Forgiveness on iBelieve
- Untangling Grief, Triggers, and Forgiveness article by Dr. Sherri Keffer
- Are Christians Supposed to Forgive Abusers? on Sojo
- When Forgiveness is Exhausting on (in)Courage
- What is Forgiveness? – Patrick Doyle, Dove TV [VIDEO on YouTube]
- Learning to Forgive – Patrick Doyle, Dove TV [VIDEO on YouTube]
- How Reconciliation Works – Patrick Doyle, Dove TV [VIDEO on YouTube]
- Forgiving What You Can’t Forget book by Dr. David Stoop
- Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard
- Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves book by Dr. David Stoop
Consider holding the beautify of forgiveness in one hand, as a gift to be opened, while also attending to the reality of your emotions, healing journey, and current circumstances in the other. Maybe, that's where forgiveness starts? By receiving His healing touch, His compassion, His care, and His guidance in the places where hurt happened. A wounded heart can't give what they don't have. Forgiving others is a process that may take time. Especially when hurt has been invalidated & long-standing. Allow space within you to hold forgiveness as a gift. Unwrap the layers one at a time. Allow space within you to hold forgiveness as a gift, and unwrap the layers one at a time.