I want to address the elephant in the room. The use of the “F” word by Christians. Christians use the “F” word all the time without any thought as to its real meaning and impact on others. I have over the last few years really grappled with this myself. It wasn’t until I spoke with my pastor in counselling that I really started to reflect on this topic. When reading the bible to gain insight I read that Jesus said the “F” word on the cross!
Yep! Its true, he actually said” Forgive them they know not what they do” (Luke 23 : 34). Forgiveness (What “F” word did you think I was referring to?)…its the “F” word that many Christians use flippantly, and without an understanding of what it actually means, or what it can do.
I was given the book ” Forgiveness- Gods Master Key : Pray the most powerful prayer on earth” written by Peter Horrobin by my pastor. When he gave it to me he said “I know you have read a lot about this, and we have talked a lot about forgiveness, but just read it, I think you will get something out of it.”. To be honest, I was rather dubious as to what it could possibly say that I didn’t already know. I mean, I had spent hours in counselling praying about those that hurt me, and asking the Lord to heal me up as I “chose” to forgive them. I wrote a long list of those who hurt me, then had to read, and explain each incident with my pastor, who then prayed for me to be healed from the pain it brought. (Side note, that experience is very much needed to really heal, but its not all there is to the healing process.) Yet, I still had hurts and emotions that bubbled up and caused great anger and distress, as well as my continued health issues. I know from experience, speaking with my pastor, and researching the subject, that health is very much linked to an individuals spiritual health.
So, I took the book which is only 102 pages long (I am an avid reader, so this looked like a pamphlet in comparison to my usual reading) and decided that I would read it, if only to keep my word to my pastor. I was very surprised to find that it was a very emotional and personal read for me. In this book Peter Horrobin explains that although we say ” we forgive”, and we pray to the Lord ” heal me Lord”. We have not actually forgave the person.
Let me step back a bit and explain a couple things that I know to be true about forgiveness first:
First, its a choice. Plain and simple, you have to choose to forgive, and you have to ask God for help to feel it…eventually. I say eventually, because at first you really are only choosing to forgive as an act of obedience to God. Matthew 6:15 says” But, if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you.”. Pretty clear statement, not much grey area there. When I started forgiving people I actually said “Lord, I am choosing to forgive so and so, but I don’t feel forgiving, I feel angry (fill in emotion and thought here), so I am choosing to forgive them because you directed us to do so. But, I don’t feel warm and fuzzy and I don’t want to be pals with them. Help me to not have the negative emotions when I think of this person, please help my feelings to be aligned with my choice to forgive them, Amen.”
Secondly, Forgiveness does not mean Forgetting. Many Christians believe that if they forgive a person then they are to forget what that person has done. WRONG! God has forgave us but the bible states he does not accept us repeatedly sinning against him. Hebrews 10:26 “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” . Those that continue to sin are not true Christians , as they really do not know the Lord or else they wouldn’t keep sinning. 1 John 3:9 “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” So , when we forgive someone it doesn’t mean we have to forget what they did. We just don’t hold it over them and keep throwing in their face or stewing on it. It means we forgave, but we are not setting up a situation where they can repeatedly keep doing it (you wouldn’t leave your purse or wallet with a person you knew stole from you, because that would be inviting them to do it again). With each person its different, but as a Christian you simply need to forgive, let God decide if you will forget.
Third, Praying a prayer of Forgiveness is NOT all you need to do. So you prayed and said you forgave so that’s it, right? Well, that would be great wouldn’t it? but it doesn’t work that way for us. Forgiveness is intentional,and requires active participation. Praying to God that you forgive a person is a great first step, but then comes the healing part which is the difficult part. It requires you being truthful and diligent in seeking the Lord when thought and emotions arise about a person, and confessing those feelings and asking him to help you to heal, and for your feelings to align with the choice to forgive.
Fourth, You do not need to be friends, or seek the person out to forgive them. Not only is this a recipe for frustration, it is also potentially very unsafe. Not to mention, maybe that person doesn’t really want to see you either. Why, people think you must do this with everyone is beyond me. Let me be very clear, God knows everything. He doesn’t need you pointing out the person. He knows where they are, what they are doing, and what they are like. So you should only try to re-connect and restore relationships when prompted by God after prayer. I don’t know a biblical verse about this exactly, but I asked my pastor when I went through counselling, and this was his take on things as well.
Fifth, your health is tied to your spiritual health and un-forgiveness is like cancer. If you have health issues and no matter what you do or take they either remain or get worse, then you should look at what un-forgiveness you are living with. Once I really forgave, I immediately started to lose weight, my blood pressure decreased , my headaches started reducing in frequency , my mood was better, my social anxiety started to improve , and I slept better. If you let it, un-forgivness will grow into spitefulness, resentment, anger, and discontentment. It will also negatively affect every other area of your life. Which will cause more hurt blah,blah, blah, around and around we go, where its stops no one knows.
Sixth, forgiveness frees you from those that hurt you. Sadly, Christians don’t realise that by holding on to the hurts, they are allowing the person who hurt them to continue to do so, even when they are no longer in their lives or even alive, and it keeps that person spiritually attached to you (There is a prayer I was taught I will tell you later, to break those ties). This really made me mad when I realised it. Not only did they do what they did, they hurt me on so many levels, their actions caused immeasurable damage to my physical and spiritual being, AND they get to keep hurting me while they live their lives happily.I DON’T THINK SO! No bloody way is that fair, or gonna keep happening! So, I found out how to stop that by forgiving them.
Seventh, forgiveness lets you not be a wizened up , angry , spiteful and irritating human being. You know the type I am talking about. Those people that just seem, negative ALL the time. They can never be positive or happy for very long, and they don’t stop re-hashing whatever others did to them. Not exactly the best representation of Christ. Not to mention, who wants to be around that? so others leave or say something, and then the person is more hurt and around and around we go.
Lastly, Forgiveness doesn’t mean they are off the hook. God will deal with the rest. Romans 14: 10-12 ” You then, why do you judge your brother or sister? or why do you treat them with contempt? for we will all stand before God’s judgement seat. As surely as I live’ says the Lord,’ every knee shall bow before me, every tongue will confess to God. So, then each of us shall give account of himself to God”. Remember this verse its important to forgiving others (I will explain that later).
In part 2: I will explain all I have learned in further detail and give you some actual ways to forgive and heal.