Forgiveness has healing power. Forgiving those who have hurt or wronged us frees us from the past. It changes us. But it’s not easy nor is it a quick fix. It takes time and deliberate intention. Forgiveness is a process and it’s an act of the will.
Unforgiveness is like radioactive waste seeping into our souls. It pollutes every area of life, perhaps even lowering our immune system and contributing to a variety of physical illnesses. It also harms us spiritually. No one is content while bitter and resentful. We must forgive in order to free ourselves. We can easily forgive an unkind remark made unintentionally by someone who really cares for us. We can’t quickly or easily forgive physical, sexual or emotional abuse received in childhood. The deeper the wound the more difficult it is to work through the painful emotions connected to it.
Forgiveness does not condone hurtful, abusive behavior. Rather, when we forgive we give up our right to be angry and resentful; our feelings are justified but we let go of them. How can we forgive deep hurts? It helps to tell a trusted friend or counselor all the gory details. Another way to do this is to write about what was done to you; write about the thing you can’t forgive. This will help you let go of it.
Forgiveness is not an emotion; it’s an act of the will. We choose to forgive. We think we must “forgive and forget,” but this is not true. It’s normal to forgive but still remember what happened. The Bible commands us to forgive. And we need to remember God has forgiven us. When we close our heart to others we also close it to God. Ask God to help you forgive.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44