Bridging the Gap between Bitterness and Freedom – Forgiveness
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013
Over the last couple of weeks, we have been discussing forgiveness in a couple of my groups. The conversations have been invigorating for me. Almost like a pep rally gearing me up to continue with forgiveness in my relationships.
What I realize is, I don’t want my heart to be bitter and resentful. I want to live in freedom, wholeness and peace. And I believe that forgiveness is the bridge leading from the ugly life, to the good life.
Sometimes forgiveness seems impossible. I recognize that forgiveness isn’t something that comes easily or naturally for me. But what I forget is that its through God that I am able to forgive. He is holding up that bridge! I just have to have the faith to take the steps to walk over it. Truly, He will take care of the rest.
And the reality for me is, rarely is it one single bridge. Sure, maybe the first bridge is the hardest to cross. (And for that first bridge, I like to remember it with a letter of forgiveness and a time stamp). And in the past, I’ve thought my work was done after crossing that first bridge. But what I know today is that forgiveness is a process. There are multiple bridges. Maybe even hundreds. But each time I cross over the next bridge, I am closer to the healing God has in store for me. The momentum builds. And I start to run to the next bridge instead of walking.
So, how do we engage this process?
Step One: For me, its recognizing the bitterness in my heart. The resentment. And simply acknowledging it.
Step Two: Sitting in these feelings. Allowing ourselves to work through this ugly. And for me, getting angry and writing an anger letter proves to be beneficial in extreme cases.
Step Three: Embrace that forgiveness is a process. It can occur in stages.
Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Step Four: Communicate our forgiveness. It may be a letter that no one ever reads. But I think it’s important to make it official. Know the date you forgave. Be specific about what you are forgiving.
The steps continue…but I’ll stop for now, I’d hate to overwhelm!
I’m still ruminating over some hard-to-answer questions. For instance: What does it look like to continually forgive when you are wronged over and over again? How do we know when we have forgiven completely? Do we have to know everything in order to forgive?
I’ll get to those questions at some point. But for now…
Is there someone you feel you need to forgive? Is there someone that your heart is bitter or resentful towards? What has your experience been forgiving someone or being blessed by forgiveness from someone else? I’d love to hear from you!