There is only way to live and never be hurt and that is to choose to never love another person. If you are in a relationship with anyone, you will be hurt. And the more you love that person, the deeper that hurt will go. Unfortunately, we often enter marriage thinking if we simply love each other more and more, we will never have to say “I’m sorry!” Most of us realize by day two of being married that this is a crock of bull. Love is not a barrier against ever being hurt or hurting someone else. But love does provide a barrier that every relationship needs and that is forgiveness. Love is a barrier against the destructive and powerful force of unforgiveness.
I’m sure it wouldn’t take you very long to think of a person you are struggling to forgive. You might be married or engaged to that person, it could be one of your children, or it might be a neighbor or business partner. Now stop and think of how your inability or unwillingness to forgive that person affects you. Here are a few words that came to my mind: bitterness, anger, wounded pride, sleeplessness, judgment, resentment, lack of intimacy, emotional distance, lack of vulnerability, and the loss of time and joy. Everyone of those words are caustic and destructive. We hold onto unforgiveness thinking we are are controlling the person who hurt us, but in the end we are only hurting ourselves. You see, the deeper and longer we hold onto unforgiveness, the deeper its claws go into you.
Here are a few truths I try to live by when it comes to forgvieness:
- Forgiveness is an act of love that you extend to the other person that actually comes back to you as a gift for yourself. I can choose to live overwhelmed by anger and bitterness and resentment because someone hurt me, or I can offer in love the gift of forgiveness and experience the gifts of peace, joy, and hope.
- Forgiveness is a personal choice I make and is not dependent on whether the person who hurt me is sorry or not. Corrie Ten Boom, a Jewish holocaust survivor said this about forgiveness, “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean I will immediate trust you again or that there are no consequences for your actions.
- My relationship with God has helped me be a more forgiving person. There is no doubt he loves me and has forgiven me. This motivates me to do the same. A verse I often turn to is Ephesians 4:32, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
- Forgiveness is tough. Sometimes you need someone to help you work through the hurt, pain, and past. Don’t be afraid to get professional help.