I’ve heard it said before that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. It’s always resonated with me and I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that I sometimes have to tell myself almost daily not to drink the poison. Sometimes, I do really well and I temporarily avoid that poison altogether – especially when I go a long time without seeing someone who I’ve allowed to hurt me. Other times, I drink the entire vial and it’s paralyzing.
The only thing that I can do is to do what feels the most unnatural for me to do, which is for me to pray blessings over the person(s) who I’m struggling to forgive. I want so badly for them to come to the realization that what they said or did or the way they acted (or didn’t act at all when I needed them to act) was hurtful and I focus way more on justice than I do on mercy, which imprisons nobody but myself. I think that if they only had the “a-ha” moment and understood how wrong they were that I could finally be released from the resentment I unnoticeably embrace.
Things that don’t make forgiveness magically happen:
- Avoiding the person
- Disassociating with them to teach them a lesson
- Giving them a taste of their own medicine
- Trying to ignore the pain
It’s easier to forgive and release ourselves from that anger and resentment when it’s someone we hardly know. A lady on her phone cut me off in a parking lot today. It annoyed me at the time, but I know I won’t remember it years from now, nor will I care. It’s different when it’s a family member or a friend that you trusted and loved enough to not only give of your time, but your acts of service, your money, your encouragement over the years, your own home when they needed a place to just be, your embrace when they were sad. Hearing hurtful words about how they feel about you or statements questioning your character or integrity are moments you don’t forget. They are moments that maybe only took a second to unfold, but they have been stinging you for months, years, or even decades. These types of wounds are the hardest to heal, and it seems like no amount of care will cover the scars.
I’ve been hurt before, and the only way I healed was to pray – not to pray for justice or for the other person to realize what they’ve done….. not even for them to change. Unconditional love means we don’t give up on people – even when they hurt us. Years ago, I got hurt pretty heavily. For months, I let it fester. It ate at me. As soon as I would start to pray about it, I found myself just venting in my head and justifying my thoughts. I had to audibly tell myself to stop and I made myself write a prayer on my for that person. My prayer was simply for that person to experience abundant blessings, for that person to know who they are and WHOSE they are. I prayed for this person to have a blessed family, a happy home, an incredible life. In addition, I prayed very specific blessings over that person. I prayed that prayer once a day for a while and I promised myself I would pray that prayer every time I started to feel like drinking that vial of poison again. I can honestly say that I no longer have resentment, hurt, or even a smidge of bitterness toward this person. I don’t think about the hurt I felt anymore. I don’t hold onto it. I’ve been released and it feels so good. I also have a great relationship with that person now and I consider myself blessed to call this person my friend. Trust took some time, but that’s ok. Forgiveness and trust aren’t the same thing, but I’m happy to say that God restored my trust in this person as time went on too.
The point of this post is to encourage us (myself included) to stop replaying the hurt in our minds. Who has hurt you? Who do you struggle to forgive? What name pops in your head? Pull out your phone, a sheet of paper, write an email to yourself, do whatever you need to do to write down a prayer for this person. Instead of asking God to change them, ask Him to bless them. No alternate agenda, just blessings. See what happens to your heart.