In my post Coming Out of the Shadows I shared my healing journey from sexual abuse. Since then I have had mixed emotions about it all. God has healed my heart but the scars are still there. Forgiveness isn’t a one and done. I have had to forgive every step of the way in my healing. When I held onto that hurt my healing would become stagnant. After sharing my soul in that post I felt so free but also emotionally drained the bitterness and anger began to creep into my heart and my old way of shutting down and self preservation mode was just on the surface. I used to think if this person would apologize and his life was reflective of change I would suddenly be okay. I was so wrong he did apologize (his life was and still is a mess) and I was filled with hatred towards him; I had to really seek God to help me so that I could truly heal and forgive this awful offense. That was many years ago; and I no longer hate him, I have forgiven him and my heart is free (this took many years). I was the queen of petty I would just cut you off if you hurt me, you were dead to me! Thankfully I have grown!
Over the past few months I have encountered so many hurting people. Marriage wounds of betrayal, parent wounds of wayward children, sibling hurts from childhood that are still lingering that was never addressed, relationships so fragile teetering on a huge explosion. Church hurts from spiritual abuse, legalism and manipulation. I have struggled over the years; what does it mean to truly forgive, if I forgive am I letting this person off the hook? Have you ever rationalized holding on to bitterness and hurt because the person hasn’t responded the way we would like them to. Raises hand. I have! To forgive means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, a flaw or mistake; to cancel a debt. I know I often fall short exercising forgiveness or even seeking it when I have wronged someone. Then I remember that God has forgiven me of so much and He doesn’t hold it against me. He canceled my debt! I try to give my family the benefit of the doubt when my feelings are hurt or if I am slighted and feel unappreciated at times. I have to constantly remind myself that the relationship is more important than “winning” the argument. Which means I have to give up the right to be right! OUCH! That is so hard for me! I now realize that forgiveness is necessary for my growth and healing; I also know that some relationships can’t be restored when the relationship is toxic and unhealthy. Forgiveness doesn’t always mean restoration.
Is there a relationship in your life that needs to be restored? Are you holding on to bitterness? I know I still have some work to do in this area God is stretching me!