Forgiveness can be extremely hard and the pain feels like it will never subside. What can we do to heal, when the apology never comes? What does the Bible tell us about forgiveness and remorse?
Most of us learn about forgiveness and remorse early in life. In my experience, these two lessons work in tandem best when parents help mediate. (Especially when siblings are involved.) I was taught to apologize to my brothers, my parents, anyone I had hurt, to God. In turn, I learned to forgive those who had asked for forgiveness. As I got older, this lesson became harder. I did not comprehend, as a child, that some day forgiveness would be given even without an apology.
Honestly, I was under the impression that this tandem operation would be much more of a “thing”. Consequently, the less influence my parents had on my daily decisions, the harder it became to forgive and be forgiven. It was a challenging lesson as a child, and it’s even harder now. For me, it’s not the apologizing that’s difficult, it’s forgiving in spite of the pain. Especially, forgiving when the apology doesn’t happen. How do we transition toward a posture of healing when our pain goes unacknowledged?
Fresh into marriage, I learned the hard way that my husband could not read my mind. This is true for a majority of the population… we are not a clairvoyant species. Needless to say, the silent treatment got me nowhere. Indeed, the smarty, backhanded comments did NOT portray the hurt I was feeling. I had to learn how to, clearly and gently, communicate what I was upset about. When I was able to approach my husband in a posture of forgiveness, it made it easier for him to understand my pain and truly apologize.
Forgiveness: What the Bible says…
Since you have been chosen by God who has given you this new kind of life, and because of his deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others. Don’t worry about making a good impression on them, but be ready to suffer quietly and patiently. Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:12-13, TLB
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…
Matthew 6:14, ESV
Whoa! We have to suffer “quietly and patiently”, ever “ready to forgive”. Why? God COMMANDED us to forgive, anyone and everyone so that we, too, could receive forgiveness. Commanded. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, and it doesn’t seem fair. For us, forgiveness is usually second in line to our grief and we let it stay there until WE are ready. When the pain subsides, then we forgive. However, God is just and His timing is perfect. FIRST forgive, THEN cast your heartache on the Lord for He will mend you.
Give your burdens to the Lord. He will carry them. He will not permit the godly to slip or fall.
Psalm 55:22, TLB
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7, NLT
Forgiveness: What to do…
I’ve found that healing of the mind and heart can take some time. All types of emotions creep in, during this season: anger, bitterness, sadness, self-pity. How do we handle these in a healthy manner? The list below contains methods that I have personally used during times of healing in order to combat these ugly emotions…
Throw some rocks
Living in the country has its perks. I do not recommend throwing rocks if you are surrounded by a lot of neighbors. Otherwise, they will have to forgive you for a broken window. Alternatively, wetting some paper towels and throwing them at your shower wall bears the same result. But, rocks are fun.
Write it out and burn it
Seriously, this is awesome. Get it all out; the messy, fractured emotions. It is pain, leaving the mind, through the hand. Fire destroys the negativity, physically and symbolically.
Exercise is self-explanatory. I have found, being physically active can help release ugly feelings. Make sure it is something you actually enjoy doing. Turning on some upbeat music and having a solo dance party, can shake those negative emotions right out.
Wake up early to pray
Oh my gosh! Sleep is so precious. However, losing a few minutes of sleep replenishes our souls. Waking up 10-15 minutes earlier to pray for those who have hurt you, will bless you and them! “ Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” (Luke 6:28, NLT)
Talk it out
Connect with someone you trust and talk it out! Your spouse, a friend, a pastor, a counselor, someone who knows your intentions and your heart.
Devotions, scripture, music, podcasts, hobbies, subjects you love; all these things should occupy your mind as to not dwell on the pain. I discovered that the longer I would dwell, the longer the pain stuck around.
The break away…
Just this evening, as I was finishing up this post, God gave me opportunity to follow through on His command. There was a disagreement, with hurtful words thrown around. In that moment, I failed the test. I was hurt and was not quick to forgive. Boy, will I remember this night. Not because of the pain, but because of the shame. I let God down and did not heed his commandment. How can I write these words for you and not live it out?! Praise the Lord for His grace!
What about you? Is there pain getting in the way of you forgiving? In what ways have you coped during a healing process?
If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…