It’s no secret that those who are closest to us can wound us the most profoundly. Betrayal can build walls around our hearts to protect us from the heartache, but it’s those same walls that keep us from receiving healing and having trusting relationships. In fact, it can make you less loving in general. Who wants that?
How do we free ourselves from the entanglement of the toxic stress and emotions that come from the offenses life brings our way? We must learn to forgive. Hurt and rejection are a load we were never meant to carry, and a weight you do not have to bear.
We have to learn to forgive ourselves. I come with great news: God will never define you by your greatest mistake. Neither should you. It’s time to take a look back at that something you have never forgiven yourself for and forgive yourself.
Forgiveness is a choice. If you are struggling with unforgiveness, then you have to begin by asking God to give you the strength to forgive; it’s not an option. You have to realize that choosing not to forgive could be the very thing holding you back from amazing opportunities all around you. When we focus on our hurt and offense we can miss the good that is standing just a few feet away.
We all have had things said or done to us that brought pain. We have all experienced rejection. We have all experienced betrayal. Jesus is the greatest example of this. When they were crucifying him, he prayed this simple prayer: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.”
In his greatest moment of physical and emotional pain, he gave the greatest example. He chose to forgive.
Don’t keep score. One of the hardest lessons the Bible teaches us about forgiveness is that it is limitless and it doesn’t keep score. Actually, God keeps score, but in a very different way. God’s mathematics for forgiveness is 70 x 7. This is the answer he gave when asked how many times we are required to forgive someone. It simply means that forgiveness knows no end.
It’s easy to just turn our backs on others who have wronged us and walk away. But you never walk away without carrying and bearing the marks of unforgiveness: isolation, emotional detachment, and even depression. Time does not heal all wounds, but forgiveness can.
Final thoughts: We live in an age in desperate need of courageous acts of forgiveness. We must stop drinking poison and expecting it to hurt the one who hurt us. We only hurt ourselves. When it comes to your family or those closest to you, you must ask God for the strength to not only forgive, but to restore and heal — and to love like you have never been hurt.
Jentezen Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville. He can be contacted at 678-677-8300 or visit www.freechapel.org.