Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


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Friday, February 06, 2015

Are You Drinking Poison?

One of my favorite quotes is that unforgiveness is like drinking poison, hoping the other person will die. Most of the time, the other person doesn't even know you feel the way you do, and THEY'RE certainly not stressing themselves over it. And even if they do know, they 99.9% probably just don't care. You’re the only one stressing yourself, losing sleep at night over it and even thinking about it.

But SO MANY people I know refuse to forgive and justify their lack of forgiveness to someone who has wronged them by prefacing it with "but you just 'don't understand'".

No, I really do. I truly DO understand: 1. being molested by multiple people as a child at various points throughout my childhood, starting at age 4 - some of them just kids themselves, and some by adults I was supposed to be able to trust 2. being bullied every day for 3 years at school to the point where I developed ulcers by the time I was in 7th grade and cried all the way home every day because of those I thought were friends turning their backs on me - 6th - 8th grade was hell on earth for me 3. having a parent not be there for me because of a severe mental illness and not being able to have a normal childhood at home because of it 4. being in an abusive marriage that put me in physical therapy 5. having my (former) spouse #1 cheating on me and getting them pregnant 6. finding out that (former) spouse #2 was living with someone else in another city who didn’t even know he had a family here 7. being turned on and talked about by family members 8. being unjustly treated by a boss... Trust me...I UNDERSTAND! And I understand the weight of carrying all of that baggage and unforgiveness and bitterness that ALWAYS comes from refusing to forgive.

But, as one lovely friend at a women’s retreat a couple of years ago told me when we were going through a forgiveness exercise, "What kind of frame of mind do you have to be in, in order to obey God and forgive others?" BAM! That is a moment I will never, ever forget. She was entirely right and I am entirely thankful for her truth to me.

You may not feel like forgiving those who have hurt and wronged you. Who have damaged you. Who may have even broken you. I didn’t either. But hanging on to such negative emotions, some for over 30 years, really does a number on your heart and your soul. It starts to eat away at you. I was tired of having all of those situations weighing me down. I wanted freedom from all of it so I forgave them ANYWAY, even though I didn’t think I was in the “right frame of mind” to. I forgave them by name and by offense. I gave it all over to God and they will never even know – mostly because the majority of them I have no clue where they are now and some are even dead. And that’s ok, because forgiveness is between me and God. I have continued to forgive them since then, because forgiveness isn’t always a “one and done” kinda deal. God calls us to forgive someone who has wronged us 70 times 7. That’s a whole lot of forgiveness we’re called to do, if necessary and needed, in order to be able to truly forgive them completely. Unforgiveness shackles you to the person who hurt you. Don't give them that power over you!

In forgiving others, even when you don’t want to, it starts to cleanse that bitterness from your spirit. And it lightens that burden you’ve carried. The things I’ve been though at the hands of others have been truly awful, and even downright horrific! But they’ve made me stronger. They’ve made me able to understand those going through the same situations. They’ve made me more compassionate. What the enemy meant for ill to break me down, God turned around and made it for my good.

I’m free and that’s a beautiful thing. That’s what matters the most. You don’t forgive someone because they need it. You forgive others because YOU need it.