I was confronted recently with the fact that I have a problem with forgiveness. This realization surprised me. I thought I was a forgiving person. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t let people get under my skin easily. I’m pretty easy-going.
But I was reading a book by Joyce Meyer when the issue of a recent hurt came to mind. In the book, Joyce talked about God’s expectation for us in forgiving others. Not only are we supposed to completely forgive, but we are to love our enemies and pray for those who do us wrong. (Luke 6:27-28)
I realized that the reason I didn’t see my unforgiveness was because for me it wasn’t the original betrayal that I held on to, but it was the fact that the person didn’t act the way I thought he should act in the aftermath of the incident. He wasn’t acting sufficiently humbled and repentant. So, I justified the anger I felt.
As I read the book, I admitted that I did not want to forgive the person. I wanted him to get a clue and go away. But I’ve walked with God long enough to know that my anger, resentment and anxiety affected me, not my offender. To use another Joyce Meyer piece of wisdom, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” If I held on to the hurt, it would affect my well-being and my relationship with God.
More importantly there exists the reality that God has forgiven me of every hurt I’ve inflicted on others, every lie I’ve told, every wrong move. Therefore, I have to forgive the ones who hurt me.
So I prayed and asked God to help me, believing that He was the only one who could. I didn’t know how to let go or how I should act around this person. But where our abilities to change ourselves end, God’s power and wisdom work in abundance to change our hearts. Step by step, God began to loosen the chains. The anger I felt is gone and the anxiety is dissipating. God is showing me how to forgive.