A few days ago, I came across something that I really didn’t want to see. My stomach dropped, my heart started beating fast, and anger overwhelmed my soul. I needed to forgive the same person all over again. I thought I had crossed that bridge already so why was I crossing it again? You think you’ve forgiven someone, you get past it, and then you find yourself back at the starting line searching your heart for that same forgiveness.
Forgiving is hard. Something inside of us doesn’t want to let go of the pain & anger. It doesn’t want to put in work to get to a better mental place because being angry is so much easier. We replay the scenarios in our heads, get mad all over again, and justify our self-pity. The person that caused us pain deserves to feel it as much as we do, if not worse, and we obsess over how we can make them feel it.
Rationalizing forgiveness, for most of us, goes a little like this: if I forgive them then that means that I am okay with what was done to me, I am okay with the pain I felt, and I have to forget it ever happened. But the definition of forgiveness is not “Forget the offense and absolve the offender.” No, the definition is “stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.” The act of forgiving gives your heart and mind a break from always putting your (negative) energy into someone else.
I run into a different issue though.
For me, forgiving others was never really that hard of a task. I don’t hold grudges, I don’t get angry very often, and I don’t ever stay angry. What is hard for me is always feeling like I need to forgive myself. I think a lot of times, we tend to work on forgiving the other person but continue to stay angry at ourselves. Recently, I found myself taking a lot of blame for things like: ignoring the red flags, ignoring my intuitions, surrendering my values and/or morals at the expense of someone else, agreeing to lose a part of myself to keep someone who ended up leaving anyways, asking questions and not accepting the answers I got because I wanted to hear something else, and not knowing better about the unforeseeable future.
This feeling was killing me. I began searching for answers on “how to forgive” by googling, reading other people’s POVs via blogs, and of course, reading the Bible. What started with “forgiving others in the Bible” ended with “what does the Bible say about forgiving yourself” because let’s face it, no one really asks that question.
Here’s some truth that I discovered
When we are angry at ourselves for “letting” something happen, that’s pride!! Only God knows our future. We have control over the decisions we make, but knowing the outcome of a situation is beyond our control. Even though we choose to ignore the signs that God gives us, He still forgives us. When we refuse to accept the forgiveness extended to us by Him, we are putting ourselves above others and God [ahem pride]. Proverbs 16:18 clearly says that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Jesus never said “forgive yourself, then I will forgive you.” In Matthew 6: 14-15, it says “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.“ So it’s not that we can’t forgive ourselves, it’s that we won’t accept that we are already forgiven. He gave us the authority to forgive people who have wronged us and when we do that, we are automatically forgiven by God.
He wants us to forgive others so that we can be rid of darkness within our hearts. We are set free when we choose to cleanse ourselves from the anger and negativity! If we humble ourselves and have faith, we will also be cleared of our own conscience. We will no longer have a weighing stone on our hearts keeping us from enjoying the full extent of joy that God gives.
The lyrics in the song Who You Are by Unspoken sum the topic up perfectly.
You refuse forgiveness
Like it’s something to be earned
Sometimes pain’s the only way that we can learn
If you want to weigh in on this topic, please leave a comment below! I would love to hear what others think.