Forgiveness: The Emotional Silver Bullet
Forgiveness is the answer to so many of our questions. The problem is that so few people realize it. I constantly hear people say things like: “If I forgive her, I’m saying that what she did was okay,” “He doesn’t deserve to be forgiven,” “I don’t feel like forgiving,” “He needs to change before I forgive,” “She hasn’t asked for forgiveness,” or “I can’t forgive because I’ll never forget what he did.” These statements all reflect a distorted perspective. The truth is that forgiveness benefits the “forgiver” more than the “forgiven.” We all have a limited capacity for emotions. We store them up, and we act out of what is filling our tanks. When we feel an abundance of hurts, we express bitterness, feel depressed, try to exert control, and experience physical problems like sleep and appetite disorders. We escape into work, family, or friends. We seek to medicate with alcohol, drugs, sex, etc. But, forgiveness releases our stored-up negative emotions like nothing else can. It sets us free—free from the control of the people or things that hurt us.
The big question though is: How do we forgive? How do we start the process when we are the ones who have been wronged? Well, it starts with the acknowledgment that you need forgiveness yourself. Think about all the things that you have done over the span of your life and the fact that God forgave you. He sent his son to die for your sins—each and every one—but he did it before you committed any of them, knowing full well that you would commit each. His forgiveness was unconditional and he decided to forgive you before you asked. You may not have the capacity to forgive the sins your spouse has committed against you, but God does. If you believe that through Jesus, God forgave you, you are simply acting as a steward of his forgiveness of you. Ask him for his help to give you the strength and desire to constantly make the choice to forgive, regardless of how you feel.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31,32 NIV)