A few years ago, I settled in my heart to forgive someone I hated for about ten years. After years of thinking I had finally forgiven, I soon realized I still harbored hate for a person who was and is one of the most important people in my life. Unforgiveness proved to be a terrible thing to live with. In my life, it created bitterness and anger to the point I was content with writing this person off, and learning to live life without them. The pain caused, convinced me that this person didn’t deserve my love. This was my revenge.
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19 NIV)
The truth is, I don’t deserve love either, but God. He continues to shower me with His love every day. Clothed in this realization, I knew to grow deeper in my walk with my Lord I needed to truly forgive, and believe that this hurt could be replaced with love. Even though I’ve tried unsuccessfully at this since I was a little girl, I knew with the Lord all things are possible. I couldn’t keep penalizing someone for sin when God forgives, loves freely and has called me to do the same.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
After years of living with unforgiveness, I knew I couldn’t live with bitterness any longer, and I wanted to learn how to unconditionally love this person again. I just couldn’t figure out how – not in my own strength anyway. So, I got on my knees and sincerely prayed for God’s supernatural strength to help me forgive. To be effective in my prayer, I first had had to figure out how and why. Why I held forgiveness captive and how I could shatter its chains. Once I got to the root cause of my unforgiveness, I had to rely on my faith and make a conscious decision to forgive.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
After a long battle of learning how to forgive, forgiveness gave me a peace that truly surpassed all my understanding. I didn’t realize the massive amount of weight I was carrying until it moved off my heart. Forgiving feels like I have come out of darkness into the marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). I have also learned how to unconditionally love this person again. Now, it’s much less painful to forgive others.
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (1 John 4:20 NIV)
Forgiveness isn’t always easy but once we settle in our hearts to forgive, each day we have a new day to intentionally work on forgiving people like God has forgiven us. Each day we have a new day to love people unconditionally, undeservingly like Christ does for us.
Forgive. Let it go. Breathe.
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