Forgiveness is difficult enough with proffered flowers and a humble apology. It feels almost impossible when there is no repentance from the person who deeply hurt you. But that happens to most– if not all–of us at one time or another. So how do we deal with it?
How do we handle the moments we are unjustly or dishonestly accused of something? The times that we are hurt by unkind words or thoughtless actions?
You see, I think a lot of Christians talk about forgiveness but I am not sure all of us practice it. It is easy to say we forgive someone. But how do we truly make that happen? How do we move that forgiveness from our head to our hearts?
There is no formula and there is no set timeline. But there are a few things that have helped me tremendously that I would like to share with you–
1. Ask the Lord to show you how you could have handled the situation differently or if there is any truth to the accusations. While this is a painful process, it is also very helpful. Sometimes we can learn and grow from a situation, no matter how painful or unfair the original situation was.
2. Realize that the offense was not personal. Oh, this is hard. But after you replay the situation in your mind for the 100th time and after you have offered any necessary apology, then you have to realize that it is the other person’s problem. It is not yours. Recognition of this is very helpful in the forgiveness process.
3. Stop thinking about it. I find that the angry thoughts and feelings build up the more I dwell on what happened. The hurt and the sadness can overwhelm you and you feel like you are drowning. Don’t stay at that place. Make a conscious effort to move your mind to a better place. This is a difficult process but it needs to be done. Train your mind to think about something else. Get out and do something. Focus on your blessings.
4. Understand that your lack of forgiveness will only hurt you and those you love. Yes, we have all heard this but it is so very true and it bears repeating. I see in my life an example of someone who chose not to forgive someone a very long time ago. The fruit that has been born from that decision has been devastating. And I have actually seen that process start to take place in my own life as I struggled through forgiving someone. Graciously, God showed me that the person who hurt me was completely indifferent to how I felt about them and my actions were only hurting myself and my family.
5. Give your broken heart and anger to the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you supernaturally love the person who hurt you. Ask Him to do a work of forgiveness in your life. I have found that it is only when I surrender my will and my feelings to Him that I move towards true forgiveness. Sometimes you are so hurt you can’t even pray. If that happens, ask a few of your closest friends to pray for you. Cover yourself in prayer. Satan would like nothing better than for you to be at odds with that person for forever.
These are a few thoughts that continue to help me deal with unfair accusations or deep hurt from someone who never says they are sorry. I would love to hear how some of you have dealt with similar situations? What has God taught you about forgiveness?
How I long for the day where difficult relationships and hurt feelings will be a thing of the past but, until that day, we need to bravely be the better person. To be at peace with all men, as we are told in Romans 12:18–
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”