In the process of healing, forgiveness is like the master-key, a spiritual turning that unlocks us from what has us bound and allows us to then walk free and become healed. God has done beautiful work in my life when I have forgiven or have extended forgiveness.
We can spot the sins of others where we know we’ve been hurt, and then with God’s help, move towards forgiving, but what about our own mistakes? We may recognize our own sin, but, like spotting a body along the roadside while continuing to walk, we don’t take steps to do anything about the problem. One myth we need to remove from our mental page before we go any further is that if we’ve asked for forgiveness from God once, then we don’t need to anymore. That is simply untrue. Every time He reveals truth to our hearts, we need to come to a place of agreement with Him about it. He’s not out to condemn us, but to free us and bring wholeness into our lives.
In my life, because of the wrong high level of responsibility I assumed, it’s been hardest to forgive myself of things I did that caused others pain, especially my children. Those times where my decisions had caused their lives to be hard or where, looking back I saw the disappointment and pain that had resulted, were heavy to carry, and yet impossible to put down on my own.
I came to realize I had asked God to forgive me, I had asked children to forgive me, but was still holding some things against myself anyway. I was holding judgment against my life, long after God had extended His grace and it was placed under the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice, covered red. Holding onto that unforgiveness was hurting me. Holding onto it and not extending myself the same grace that had been extended by God said my standard of my not being a “perfect parent” was above His. Because it also shouted loudly without a word that Jesus was not enough, it left the door open for the enemy to hammer me about my failures again and again. It built a wall up in my life that had separated me from the fullness of peace the Lord wanted me to have.
The harboring of anger, resentment, bitterness, or judgment that lie buried within, even if it seems justified, creates painful, rotting deposits that need God’s forgiveness, cleansing, and healing. When I realized I was living with self-condemnation that would jump up and slap me with an over-reaction of pain if something about the past came up, I quickly went to God who gladly relieved me of it. Jesus touched the wounded places and brought healing.
If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us all our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 2:9
Faithful. Just. Will forgive all.
But what about forgiving God for things that have happened? Isn’t He our Father? Isn’t He our protector? Then why has He allowed hurtful things into my life?
Sometimes we feel angry and blame God for what was actually the work of the enemy. This always reveals more of the condition of our hearts and of our belief system. If I am holding God responsible for the choices of someone else or the work of satan, then I am saying He is not trustworthy or faithful to His word. It is evidence that I need more understanding of who God is!
There have been times in my life where I expressed my anger to God for what He was allowing or the path He had placed me on, but after I emptied my heart of its angry contents, I was able to feel His comfort and hear His truth about my life.
When someone else makes a choice that hurts me, it’s not God’s fault. When something bad happens, do I continue to blame Him? I can, but it won’t be based in truth. I believe God protects me more times than I am aware of, but He also allows me to learn. The difficult times that come not only increase my trust in Him, but also help me to become more surrendered to His Lordship. Then I am able to comfort others with how the Father has comforted me.
Watch for signs in your emotions and reactions and let those be a map to where there is undetected brokenness and wounding in your life from unforgiveness so that Jesus can heal it.
In answer to Peter’s question about the number of times one must forgive, Jesus said “Seventy times seven” and in effect means “Peter, stop counting and just forgive!” We continue to forgive until the pain is healed. If Jesus forgives me, then I must forgive myself, and stop blaming God. Forgiveness brings peace and wholeness and opens the way for Kingdom life to go forward. And isn’t that what we want?
(c) September 2011, Robin Lawrimore