*To forgive does not mean we condone the hurtful behaviour
*To forgive does not mean our pain doesn’t matter
*To forgive does not mean everything is OK
*To forgive does not mean I should allow ill will towards me to continue
*To forgive does not mean I should stay in an abusive situation
*To forgive does not mean I feel forgiveness.
Rather, forgiveness is freewill action, prompted by grace, which sets us free from the consequence of sin.
[Matthew 18:18, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be lost in heaven”.]
When we forgive, the harm committed against us loses its power over us. Anger flees, and with it goes hostility, hatred, resentment and bitterness. We are set free – and so is the person who has been held in spiritual bondage by the fetters of our forgiveness.
2. How then, do we begin to forgive – especially when the wrong committed against us is deep and painful?
The first step: We must want to forgive. Forgiveness is a matter of the will, not the heart. We choose to forgive; we decide to forgive. Sometimes the pattern of anger isso entrenched or the pain is so deep that we cannot make this decision. In these instances, we need to pray for the desire to forgive. If even praying for the desire to forgive IS uncomfortable for us, we need to pray for the desire to forgive. We take it back as far as we need to take it until we reach a certain assurance we can begin – and then we work our way forward, one desire at a time. Forgiveness is a process, and it often takes place in stages.
3. How can we progress in this action of mercy?
[Matthew 5:44, “ pray for your persecutors”.]
As we pray for those who have hurt us, a dynamic takes place within our souls. We find that gradually, little by little, the pain we have experienced is assuaged and the anger we hold against individual becomes tempered. Almost imperceptibly, we begin to experience God’s love for that person. We enter into the mercy of God active within us and extend that mercy to our persecutor. In a sense, through our prayer, God uses us as an instrument of mercy in
the life of the person who has wounded us.
4. Can we recover from the hurt we have experienced?
Yes. Yes. Yes. But, like forgiveness, recovery is also a choice. We must embrace the desire to be healed of our hurt, and seek this healing through the means that God gives us. For some, this may mean professional counselling. For others, it may mean time spent with a spiritual director. And for others, it may be a lifetime.
* But I'll Never Forgive & Will Never Forget