If you are jumping in, you can read Part 1.
So, if I am holding a hot rock of offense, and my freedom comes from forgiveness then, what exactly is and is not forgiveness? First, let’s start with what it is. Then we will cover what it is not. (In my life, “what forgiveness is not” is the misunderstanding that has always been defeating for my heart and why I am actively recovering from being an Unsanctified Doormat.)
What is forgiveness?
Forgiveness in the Bible is the Greek word –“ aphiemi” which means to remit a punishment or cancel a debt. True forgiveness is a work of God’s grace. It has been said that “Unforgiveness is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” So, it makes sense to me that forgiveness is giving that cup of poison to Jesus instead. After all, isn’t that why He died on the cross for us?
What forgiveness is not?
Forgiveness is not giving a Free pass to the Rock Thrower.
The reality of true forgiveness is that we release that person to God to receive correction. God is then free to work on them to bring them into right alignment with Him. Please know, what they did is not “okay,” but when you forgive you are trusting God to bring the justice instead of you.
Forgiveness is not forgetting.
It is not scriptural that we have to “forgive and forget.”
God forgives our sins and tosses it into the sea of forgetfulness. But we are not God. Our human brain doesn’t work that way.
We are overcomers by the word of our testimony. The scars of offense that we forgave are witness to our struggles, our wounds, and our victories. Offenses are the opportunities in life to get us to the next level of God’s glory. We get to step into Christlikeness to forgive when they may not even deserve it.
Forgiveness is not having to deny the hurt or the anger.
The biggest wounds in our religious culture are caused by denying our heart the right to feel the messy emotions. Messy emotions are necessary sometimes to get to the other side.
To be acceptable, we are taught to “numb” our emotions – stuff them.
When you are in the process of healing your heart, it is okay to say, “I am walking through a process right now, so I can usher in the Kingdom of God.” For when we can truly get that “rock of offense” to Jesus, our heart knows what redeeming love feels like.
Forgiveness is not trusting the Rock Thrower by allowing them to hurt you again.
In the Bible, Saul and David had a troubled relationship. David forgave Saul, but He did not trust Him.
God does not call us to be a martyr or victim. It is good to have healthy boundaries with toxic people. The Bible says to “guard your heart.” The heart has a healthy mechanism to protect the inner sanctuary of our innermost parts of who we are.
This brings a butterfly, or some would say a squirrel, to the topic of Forgiveness. I know I asked the question, so I figured you would, too.
What about reconciliation? Should I ever reconcile with the Rock Thrower?
Well, can they be trusted?
Are they willing to change their offensive behavior?
Are they willing to talk about why you are hurt?
What are the risks and rewards for restoring the relationship?
Reconciliation is a great goal if the other person is stable. God does not call us to remain in abusive relationships!! They may have to earn your trust back.
However, if that person is not stable, it doesn’t mean that you still have to walk in bitterness. It takes time for trust to be restored, but your heart can still experience the freedom of forgiveness.
Jesus knew we would be offended.
Have you ever thought that Matthew 18 is in the Bible for a reason? Jesus knew we would get offended and that we would offend each other. That is why He provided a few instructions.
This is not a time to prove you were right and they were wrong. That is called a classic “right fight” and is the “Clash of the Heart-Guardians.”
Using the words “I struggle with….”
Or “I am feeling …..”
“Help me understand….”
and asking for permission to talk is always a great approach that works for me.
Friends for a reason; friends for a season; friends for a lifetime.
As I have learned to value the voice of my heart, I have also learned to value the wisdom of my Heart-Guard whether it is wise to repair a broken relationship or to let it fade to a past season. Over time, for me, only the smiles and laughter remain, when my heart has forgiven. Only remembering the good and forgetting the lesson, can be dangerous for me sometimes, because I end up walking straight into their mess again and get to practice forgiveness all over again? But sometimes not. While we were apart, they worked on their heart and I worked on mine and our relationship can have a life again. Did you know most long-term relationships have been tested by the offense?
For the next blog in this series about “How to practice forgiveness?” go Part 3