For so long I have struggled with forgiveness, but once I had that revelation that forgiveness is actually all about processing pain, about facing pain from the past and dealing with it, the journey to truly forgiving someone else has become so much more easier.
I am going to break down the journey to true forgiveness into some practical steps.
First thing to do is to put into words how the person who hurt you made you feel. Ask Holy Spirit to help you identify the source of the pain that you are feeling. Ask why I am feeling this way, what is the entry point for this pain and what lies from my past am I believing.
Next you need to strengthen your broken places, strengthen the weak places in your soul. You need to connect with the pain that you are feeling instead of running away from it. Regardless of the reasons your hurting or your numb, the way out is to dive straight in. Spending time with God to process your past pain is so important. Allow Him to answer questions that have carried hurt. By doing this you will become a master at discovering your pain and healing your soul.
Then, ask the Holy Spirit how He sees that person who has hurt you and experience His compassion for them. Once you feel that compassion for them extending forgiveness is much easier. Then pray a prayer of forgiveness for that person. Remember that forgiveness is a choice. It is an act of our will not our emotions. You cannot measure the depth of your forgiveness by your feelings. As you remind yourself over and over again that you choose to release from punishment the person who has hurt you, the pain in your soul begins to ease.
Your behaviour also needs to change once you have released forgiveness. If I am bitter at somebody and I forgive them my behaviour towards them has to change. If your internal decision of forgiveness does not affect your behaviour, then you have no evidence that you have forgiven. God has called us into a lifestyle of forgiveness and it has to be proven through our actions.
We start our day with what Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
At the beginning of my day I make the decision to live redemptively and that before I am sinned against, before I am hurt by somebody, I prepare to forgive. It is a commitment that I make each and every day, that I am going to live the life of a forgiving person.
It does not mean that all of the abuse, hurt and pain that happens to me is justified or right, it just means that I am not going to become controlled by the sins of another person. I am making the choice to not let bitterness dictate to me my thoughts, my feelings and my actions.
And then in the book of Ephesians (4:26-27) it says “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”.
So I start my day as a redemptive person. I decide before anything happens that today I am going to live as a forgiver. I am going to release people and refuse to be bound by bitterness. Then at the end of the day, I do not let the sun go down on my anger. I may have experienced hurt and anger because things have happened to me, but I am not going to let it control me.
At the end of the day I have to make sure that I go to sleep with peace. If I don’t then that bitterness and unforgiveness begins to get worse and worse in my mind, heart and soul and it gets woven into my personality, into my thinking and becomes a part of the fabric of who I am. The longer I leave it there the more it begins to define me.
Jesus wants us every day to have a fresh start. At the beginning of the day we commit to being a forgiving person and then at the end of the day we work through the pain from the day and we clean out our heart and we start new and fresh each day.