There are going to be times in which others offend or hurt us. It could be an experience of abuse, misunderstanding, trauma, loss, betrayal, and rejection. The way we respond to these experiences moves us toward freedom or toward captivity. Captivity is that place where we are stuck in unforgiveness. We are angry, depressed, resentful, bitter, and even vengeful. Freedom is where we surrender our will to God’s will and are able to truly forgive. This is a place of peace, comfort, compassion, and healing.
To truly forgive is not always easy. It is often a process, but with God’s help, we can find true forgiveness. Here are 3 steps we can take to find it:
Remember, God forgives us.
Acknowledge that it is because of God’s forgiveness of us that we are freed and favored to live a greater life. There is no offense too great to forgive. When Jesus was on the cross, after He had gone through something most of us could never imagine, His first words were "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing," (Luke 23:34, NIV). Did you know He was not just talking about those that were around Him that day? But He was talking about forgiving you and me. If Jesus could forgive those who hung Him on a cross, surely we can forgive those who have offended us.
Ask for God’s help.
There is nothing wrong with admitting the struggle and asking for God’s help to truly forgive others like He truly forgave us. This requires getting face-to-face with our hurt and being led to a place of understanding, empathy, and empowerment. There are many ways God leads us through this; studying His word, journaling and prayer, serving in church, praising and worshipping, participating in Life Groups or Celebrate Recovery programs, as well as seeking out professional and godly counsel are among many.
Being obedient to God’s ways regularly is a choice. Forgiveness is one of those things that lines up with the word of God. He encourages his followers to release offenses through forgiveness so that we are not weighed down with unnecessary baggage. When we consistently expose ourselves to God’s ways, we will repeatedly experience God working in our lives and through our lives.
Forgiveness doesn't mean we agree with the offense, it means we no longer agree with letting it control us and keep us captive. The more we are willing to forgive the more we will realize ”that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28, NIV). True forgiveness provides the best possible outcome to any offense.
True forgiveness allows us to move forward when hurts want to hold us back.