I Can Never Forgive That Person!

forgiveThere isn’t a person reading this post, or even a person not reading this post, who hasn’t been offended by someone.  The offense may have been as simple as being cut off in traffic, or it may have been the deep violation of a betrayal by someone close to us.  Regardless of the depth, every one of us has been offended to some level by someone else.  It is universal.  It is frequent.  It happens, and it happens alot.

Some offenses are easy to forgive.   They don’t hit us hard, and we are soon past them.  However, the offenses that cut deeply to our souls are the difficult ones.  They are the ones that we struggle with the most.  We struggle with them because they have incredible power.  In some instances, these offenses-and the people who have committed them-can even have the power to run our lives.  Imagine that!  Someone hurts us deeply and then continues to hurt us daily by running and ruining our lives with that offense!

How do we know when that is happening?  How do we know when the offense has reached a dangerous level in our lives?  We know this when obsessive thoughts of the other person or event dominate our thinking.  We know it when we find that the anger inside of us begins to direct our actions.  We may feel a compulsion to learn all about the other person involved, or even drive past their home.  We may spend emotional resources imagining scenarios in which we “get back” at them.  These are good indicators that the offense is not being handled in healthy ways.

Strangely, these thoughts sometimes make us feel like we are taking control of our hurt and loss.  They may make us feel like we are actively doing something about the violation.  However, if left unchecked, these feelings will do the opposite.  They will slowly surrender control of self, and the opportunities for peace.  Instead of empowering, they become a prison – a prison with only one effective door through which might come our escape – the door of forgiveness.

Just seeing the word “forgiveness” may cause a wave of difficult emotions within us.  I have heard some people exclaim, “I can never forgive that person!”  Many probably say this because they honestly believe that forgiving the person would be wrong.  This is because they hold some misunderstandings concerning forgiveness.  They’ve bought into some myths.   Understanding what these myths are may help us move past them.  For example:

  • Forgiveness means approval – Probably the biggest myth about forgiveness is the notion that it will mean we now approve of what has happened.  The truth could not be any more opposite.  Forgiveness does not approve of what has happened.  Never, ever, ever.  We forgive because we don’t approve!
  • Forgiveness is weakness – Another myth about forgiveness is that it means we are weak.  How utterly false!  Forgiveness is anything but a sign of weakness.  On the contrary, it is of the most challenging and strongest things you will ever do!  It is a divine thing with divine proportions.
  • Forgiveness is forgetting – The phrase “forgive and forget” has done much to disturb our understanding of this divine act.  It is impossible to forget what happened.  But, that’s actually a good thing.  We need to remember what has happened so that we don’t repeat the same mistake.  How awful it would be if we repeated the mistake and were hurt again by the same person!
  • Forgiveness means no more hurt – This is a commonly-held myth.  We believe that if we have forgiven someone then there should be no more pain.  This is not true.  If we were badly injured in an accident and forgave the person who caused it, we may still suffer the physical pain that resulted.  In the same way, emotional pain may linger in our lives even when we have forgiven someone.
  • Forgiveness means to trust again – Wrong. We might forgive someone but we may have good reason to never, ever trust them again.  Generally speaking, we extend a certain level of trust to all people.  But when that trust is broken we would be foolish to trust them until we see some change in their life that would indicate that trusting them is safe.  And even then, we should be careful.

Understanding the truths about these myths does not mean we have forgiven someone.  We do not actually forgive a person until we forgive the person.  It begins with a commitment.  We must make up our minds that this is what we will do.  Say it out loud.  Tell someone that you are doing it.  Make it your pledge.  We then must depend upon God for His power, grace, and strength to maintain that commitment.  Finally, we must begin to act like we have forgiven them – even if our emotions are screaming something else.

Walking in forgiveness must be done daily.  In some instances it must be done every hour, every minute, every second.  It is a continual walk with God, depending upon His grace for every moment, to be obedient to His call and command to forgive others.

How do we know when we are truly walking in forgiveness?  I believe that we might know that we have ascended to this spiritual place when we can in honesty and sincerity pray for the blessings of God in the other person’s life.  If we can do this freely, then I believe we are walking where God wants us to walk.

Have you said, “I can never forgive that person?”  If so, I pray that you will reconsider those words and make the commitment to walking with God into a new, spiritual dimension.





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