Most people look for vengeance rather than forgiveness. When you understand that forgiveness frees you from pain, you pay more attention. Those past actions control your thoughts daily if you are struggling because someone harmed you.
But, when you understand the power of forgiveness, the past no longer controls you. Forgiveness frees you from pain! You move the past out of the present, enjoying today and moving forward into the future. That wrong does not need to control your life anymore.
You probably have no desire to hurt your relationships - at least, I hope not. But you hurt them now when you remember wrongs done to you years ago.
What's the problem?
Most people do not live in reality about the past. What's the reality? The past is OVER!
Look in the news and read about countries that develop strategies, set goals, and take action because of past events. Now think about that; rather than getting over the past, the past dictates the activities of the people in the country, yet it is OVER!!
Something is wrong. If the past is over, how is it so powerful? How does something that is over and gone continue to exhibit power?
Because the past is only powerful when you give it power.
When you wrong someone, or they wrong you, that action is gone, and it is over. When you dwell on it, "how wrong they were to have done that to me" or "how can I ever get over what I did to them," you give the past power that it does not have alone.
As a result, the past controls you!
Forgiveness frees you from the pain you feel now for wrongs done to you in the past. Do you want to put the past where it belongs - in the past? If so, you need forgiveness.
The power of forgiveness is second only to love (pursuing the best for others: patiently, kindly, sacrificially, and unconditionally). It is difficult for me to believe you love someone and not forgive them. Without forgiveness, you face dire consequences:
- Loss of a walk with God. He asks you to forgive because He did that for you. You are His child, but you lose an intimate relationship with Him when you do not forgive.
- Loss of health and vitality. Research shows that bitterness creates physical problems. So often, our physical body is in pain because we do not get over the past.
- Loss of joy. Bitterness and joy cannot occupy the same space.
- Loss of freedom. You build a lovely house in your mind for your offender and move them in rent-free. You become controlled by the very person you may hate.
- Loss of hope. You cannot see how things can be different. Depression is often birthed from the lost hope for justice.
Forgiveness is widely misunderstood. Probably because people link it to other items like tolerating, condoning lousy behavior, reconciliation, and forgetting. So when you connect it to something you don't want to do, you don't forgive.
But forgiveness is different and separate from those things. Check out how forgiveness frees you from pain in course 08c, "Freedom from Resentments, Bitterness, and Grudges."
Picture a couple walking side-by-side. There is nothing between them. That is a picture of two people not separated by past events - a view of two people who forgive.
But when unforgiveness is in your relationships, the result is unresolved issues and people separated from each other. Resolve each issue and remove it to restore your relationships.
Keep that same picture in mind, the couple walking side-by-side. Now, look at the path behind them. When they forgive, packages of resolved issues are left on the trail behind them. That's the reality of how relationships grow and work through difficulties.
"Good relationships leave a trail of resolved issues." - Dr. Fred Lybrand
Finally, if you believe forgiveness frees you from the pain from the past and don't want to cripple your relationship with the consequences of unforgiveness, ask yourself...
- Am I bitter, holding grudges and resentments? Forgive!
- Do I forgive as I have been forgiven? If not, then forgive.
- Am I confessing when I was wrong? Then confess!
Resolve issues - live in reality - the past is OVER!!
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships