Forgiveness? To forgive? Forgive and Forget? A word I heard quite often discussed in church growing up and in modern day society, but what does it really mean?
Forgiveness, a noun which means the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.
Forgive, a verb which means stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw or mistake; cancel (a debt).
My Forgiveness Journey
As Christians, we are told to forgive because that’s what Jesus would do. In fact, in Matthew 18: 21-22(NLT) Jesus tell us to forgive those who sin against us not seven times but seventy times seven! I remember hearing and reading that and thinking NOPE not me, maybe he meant that for other people, but I could never do that. How could I forgive someone that many times? But of course, that’s just selfish thinking. However, I continued to live most of my life in that selfish mind frame of not truly forgiving because it was comfortable, and it kept me going, or so I thought. Some of you say I forgive what he did, or she did but do you really?
I remember from around the ages of 13-15 I had a terrible temper, that only those close to me knew about. I would throw my phone against the wall, punch things, and lash out on people until eventually it suddenly simmered down. I was still angry inside but tried to keep my temper covered the best way I knew how. Some years went by and it was May of 2018 and my best friend and other 2 roommates left for Summer break and I spent that entire summer at my university. I went home to my apartment where it was just me. and God. I had so much alone time with God. I remember one night I had a dream that I told my parents about an incident that happened to me when I was 8 years old that I never shared with them. I woke up and cried and immediately said NOPE I’m not telling them so try a little harder God. The nerve! I know lol for me to talk to a great God like that, but I did. A few days later I went to church and one of my friends who didn’t know I was at service shared a part of her testimony. In part of her testimony she shared a similar incident that happened to her as well and it wrecked me. Yet, I was still not completely motivated to tell my parents. I’m slightly stubborn if you haven’t picked that up yet lol. Summer semester ends and a few weeks later Fall 2018 semester begins, a semester that changed me completely.
Fall 2018 semester starts and I attend my weekly Christian club events and started my new role of being apart of the leadership team. Side note being a part of the leadership team was never in my plans, but Gods plan and our plans aren’t always the same. However, an announcement of a retreat to Daytona with other campus ministries comes up and it’s the same weekend as family weekend at my university. I was looking forward to my parents and brother coming, so of course I said no retreat for me! I remember thinking I don’t really need to go to the retreat anyway. Me and God are doing pretty well for once and I’m not too ecstatic to pay either so I’m good. God laughs as I imagine, as I think those thoughts. Long story short I end up going to the retreat, HA! From the beginning of the Fall semester until the retreat I heard messages of forgiveness and stories about child molestation.
During the retreat, the speaker discussed finding your identity in Christ and forgiveness. My favorite word (sarcasm). The speaker shared how his grandfather was an alcoholic and nonbeliever and his mom chose to forgive him despite the bad environment she was raised in by him; and eventually his grandfather found Jesus before he passed. But what really stuck for me, she forgave him because God forgives us (Luke 23:34) and as children of God how could we somehow believe we’re higher than God and everyone deserves our forgiveness including God for all the wrongs we do but we can’t forgive others! I was taken back after that sermon and couldn’t help but cry to God as I felt the heavy pressure on my chest and the whisper of “you need to tell because it will free you and touch others” and I finally said okay God.
Fast forward two weeks I felt compelled to write and I wrote a letter to my parents sharing many wounds I had growing up; but the most important one is the fact that I was molested at the age of 8 by a family member. Toughest yet most reliving letter I’ve ever written. I was terrified to share because I didn’t know the outcome and if your anything like me you love control. We love to know how things will happen and if we don’t know how we prefer not to do it, right? But my God says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (Proverbs 3:5-6). My favorite verse was suddenly becoming a test of whether I would trust a God that knows what tomorrow brings and controls the world or trust me. Me who can’t control a thing expect my actions. So, for once I truly chose to trust God and I felt instant peace once I sent the letter. However, the reactions I will receive I wasn’t prepared for.
God’s View, The Right View
God says to forgive, why? Because he needs it? No, he’s God he doesn’t NEED us, but he loves us all so much that he would love to see us live with peace, joy, and no hatred in our hearts. Carrying unforgiveness in our hearts sprouts seeds of bitterness and anger. Nobody wants that but so many of us including myself walk around with it for years and we just poison ourselves. Imagine your harboring a wrong someone else did to you that they may not even be aware of, who does it affect more them or you? We would love to believe them but no my friend it’s you. Mark 11:22-25 (AMP), the scripture clearly states God doesn’t forgive us unless we forgive others. I don’t know about y’all but I’m not perfect and I want God to forgive me and I also don’t want to walk around hating my brothers and sisters.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering what entirely happened after I told my parents. Shortly after telling my parents most of my immediate family members read my letter and my entire life came crashing down or so I thought. I thought YAY! I told so now I can start this healing journey, but the responses of certain family members didn’t make it so easy. They turned their backs on me and did it hurt? Of course! I never thought they would, but they did but guess who didn’t turn their back on me? GOD! The moment it happened the devil and my old way of thinking started to play with my mind telling me don’t forgive them and you should hate them, but the holy spirit told me to pray for them, so I did just that. As Jesus said in Luke 23:24 (NLT), “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” I do this every time I think of them or the situation till this day because it still hurts but God got me through it and will continue to get me through this season friends. Our God is faithful and will get us through it all! 1 John 1:9(NLT).
Steps to FORGIVE
1. Decide to forgive: Don’t poison yourself or hinder your growth by harboring unforgiveness and bitterness. Ephesians 4:13(NLT). Don’t give the enemy (Satan) the power to keep you angry and stuck.
2. Depend on God: If needed share with the person or people who hurt you in a kind way, so they can know. Also, ask God to lead you through it and after it. He will give you strength as stated in Isaiah 40:29. You may think it’s unnecessary to tell but if you’re still angry about a situation it’s probably necessary. If God is placing it on your heart to tell just trust him even if it doesn’t make sense, Proverbs 3:5-6.
3. Obey: Pray for your enemies. Read Luke 6:27-36, this is powerful because it allows God to not only work on the individual’s heart who wronged you but also work on your heart.
So, I write this to encourage you all to forgive one another CONTINUOUSLY because that’s the way our God wants us to live. God wants to help you and see you walk with joy and love in your heart. He will provide peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Just trust Him. I encourage y’all to read Colossians 3: 1-17 (AMP).
God loves you more than you know
I love you and remember you’re Chosen, Bianca Brown