If you’ve lived life long enough (maybe past the first grade, for example) you’ve likely been hurt. Some who hurt you were people you didn’t really care about. Some were people you cared deeply for. Strangers can hurt us. Ministers. Teachers. Parents. Friends. Lovers. Spouses. Some of them didn’t realized that they did. Others were aware and tried to make peace. Still others didn’t care if they hurt us or not.
In dealing with life’s hurts, we can hold them close and feel miserable for the rest of our lives, or we can free ourselves from them. The choice is ours, even when we feel that it isn’t, and especially when we don’t want it to be.
Though there are several factors involved in freeing ourselves from hurt, the one we will concentrate on in this blog is forgiveness. Over the next few weeks, I’ll write a series of blogs about forgiveness including why, who, when, how, and more. We’ll use examples of real people, though they will be disguised, and base it all on great scientific research. This won’t be a series of “in my humble opinion” but a series of documented methodology that works.
For now, let’s consider the why. Why should person forgive? Why not hold anger or seek vengeance toward the person that hurt you? After all, isn’t payback something that feels good…sometimes really, really good?
As long as a person holds negative memories and feelings toward one that has hurt them, they are chained to him or her. Quite often the person who did the harm doesn’t care, and it’s almost certain that he or she isn’t spending time and emotions thinking about you. Holding the hurt keeps you chained to them, at least emotionally, but it doesn’t chain them to you. They are free to go on with their lives without so much as having a passing thought about you or what you feel. So why let them be free and you be chained? The way to break the chain is to forgive them and move on. It isn’t for their sakes; it’s for yours. It isn’t to set them free; it’s to set you free.
People reap what they sow. The one who hurts another will someday, somehow pay for it. The people on TV tend to call it karma. Paul said it this way, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8) Your forgiving a person doesn’t change what he or she has sown, or what that person will reap.
Actually, according to the Bible, if they keep on with their harmful ways, your forgiving them actually makes it worse for them.
Romans 12: 19-21: 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. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Paul made it clear that a person’s judgment before God isn’t abrogated by my forgiving him. We all stand before Him in answer to how we lived. However, Paul adamantly tells us to forego vengeance and “overcome evil with good.”
Every month in our workshop for couples in crisis I hear people talk about the freedom they gained from forgiving a spouse who hurt them, an outsider who negatively influenced their marriage, and even those that their straying spouses were involved with. They forgave to heal themselves. Amazingly, it works. Really, really works.
If you wish to know how to forgive…stay tuned…more to come.