A parent, a spouse, a sibling, a co-worker, a family member, a minister, a superior…someone you trusted violated your trust, broke your heart, tore you down till you felt little worth, took advantage of you, used you or even worse, they’ve done it to someone you love like your child. You now sit there angry, bitter, hurt, resentful…madder than a wet hornet. Justifiable? Absolutely. We’ve all been there at some point in time in our lives…”Walking Wounded.” “And wounded people tend to wound people” (35). Who are you wounding by holding onto your anger, hurt, bitterness and unforgiveness? Are you ready to begin the work necessary to forgive?
Some of you may still be under the effects of the hurtful event or person, and some of you may just be walking numbly around wondering what in the world happened. Some are coping the best way you can. Some have built walls and protection around your hearts and lives. Does any of this sound like you at any point in your life? I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Living in that pain and hurt, holding onto anger and clinching onto unforgiveness keeps you from freely worshipping God Almighty. “The question is: Do those wounds – past or present – have to define who you are, where you’re headed, and how you get there?” (37)
“These are God-sized wounds that need God-sized answers” (39). Forgiveness is no easy thing to accomplish, and often times we have to repeatedly forgive someone who will never even ask for forgiveness.
I love this quote, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us” (41). You are not defined by what happens to you. Your future does not have to be determined by what someone else has said about you, what someone did to you, or what has happened to you. Living like that is living like a victim, and John 10:10, the Bible says that Christ came to give us an abundant life. A victim’s life is not abundant. It is not a free life. A victim’s life is a life chained to the one who abused, neglected or hurt you. You want to move past? You want to be liberated from your captor? Forgive. Yes, I know it is much easier to say than do…trust me, I know this to be true. The offenses and events will shape your life, but it does not have to be what defines you or your future. I don’t know about you, but I find that empowering. This means the ball is in my court. I have control as to whether or not I allow this wrongdoing to eat away at me, or I can choose to forgive. It’s my choice. There isn’t anything that the harmful situation or other person can do to keep me bound to them if I so choose it. How strong is your will?
As Christians, we have hope. We know that there is a way out. We know that God has hemmed us in from the front and the back. We know that God has ordained our footsteps. We also know that God is our Great Physician healing down to the very marrow of the bone. You want freedom? You want to be liberated from those who hold your chains? Forgive them, and with God’s grace, you can.
Now for those who like to keep score…Nancy Leigh Demoss calls you a “Debt Collector.” These are the ones who want revenge. They want to retaliate and build up resentment in their hearts. You are holding so tightly onto every wrong that has ever been done to you that you don’t have a hand free to receive what God has for you. Did you get that? You are choosing to keep score and get even. We have a rule at our house. If one of the kids retaliates against the other for a wrongdoing, then I, as the parent, will not exact punishment. By retaliating, my child is choosing to take matters into his/her own hands. This usually means things escalates to nowhere good, real quick. If your focus is so set on getting even with someone, then your focus IS NOT ON GOD.
What if you are waiting on the other person to ask for forgiveness? What if it never comes? Are you going to live your life grasping onto the hope of that person asking for forgiveness?
What are you holding in your hands? Are you willing to release it to God, and let Him handle it? When we release our grip on what we think we deserve or want, then God is free to give us His best knowing we can receive it with our hands open. This means we have to LET GO.
Do you enjoy being forgiven by a Holy God? Do you appreciate the grace He gives you and the mercy He extends every time He forgives you? Then you must do the same.
One last quote for you to think about this week: Unforgiveness is “like drinking poison and hoping someone else die.” How long have you been drinking poison?
In the months of October and November, there is a Bible study going on for women using Nancy Leigh Demoss’s book Choosing Forgiveness. We invite you to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:40 AM for a frank and honest lesson on forgiveness.