If you forgive anyone, I do too. For what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, it is for you in the presence of Christ. I have done this so that we may not be taken advantage of by satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes - 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
Forgiveness is hard. We’ve been hurt, abused, abandoned, neglected, lied to, cheated on, betrayed, and so much more. All at the expense of some other human who may or may not have had done it intentionally; but it was done nonetheless. And we’re left to pick up the pieces, nurse the wounds, and attempt to grow from this mess that we didn’t make.
I am all too familiar with this place. It’s joined with much frustration, misery, anger, bad memories, and worst of all bondage. Its torture to experience memories of the wrong done to you, it’s even more torturous to harbor resentment about the event. I know, they owe you an apology, I know it wasn’t fair, and I know you want to get them back. It’s like forgiving them is giving them a free pass to do it again. But that’s not correct, forgiveness is for you.
The above scripture is taken from Paul’s 2nd letter to the Church at Corinth (commonly known as II Corinthians). In this chapter he is writing to the individuals about the importance of forgiveness as a sign of obedience. This particular verse he goes on to describe the importance of not only doing it for Christ (obedience) but also so that we may not be taken advantage of by satan.
The devil is called our enemy for a reason, he will do any and everything to divert us from doing God’s will. He’s also an opportunist, so if he knows that he can manipulate our emotions to influence unforgiveness don’t you think he will? I can’t speak for you, but that is just NOT OKAY with me. I am not okay with him manipulating parts of me if I have the ability to prevent it. There have been plenty of times that I wanted to stay angry, be resentful, or even worse seek revenge. It felt good knowing that I could take back my power (most pain is caused by an abuse of power...another blog post), that I could make that person feel as bad as they made me feel. Then I began to think, what type of person am I that I want someone to feel as horrible as I did during some of my worst moments? I realized that that person wasn’t me, but instead it was the enemy trying to work through me.
As a believer it’s so important for me to be alert and aware of the many different influences that surround me. Not just people, but even my memories, beliefs, and emotions that are present during certain situations. It’s also become more important for me to not allow certain things to linger too long, or to realize when something is off and to intervene appropriately. This has been a great tool in my experiences of forgiveness. The knowing that I am in control of how I long I feel something, and that I have the power to influence better emotions within myself. The knowing that my freedom or captivity is a choice.
*That's Tweetable* As a believer, it's so important for me to be alert and aware of the many different influences that surround me.
I often think of the early days of post slavery. I imagine that although the slaves were informed of their freedom that many of them may have chosen to stay on the plantation. I get it. It was familiar, they were good at it, and for so long they knew they didn’t have a choice. Unforgiveness works much like this; we can’t forgive if we’ve never done it, if we’ve mastered unforgiveness, and if we don’t realize that we have a choice in the matter.
Forgiveness is about obedience, but even more than that it’s about freedom. Freedom from the bondage of those who have not done right by you, and from the daunting effort it takes resent them. When we forgive, we aren’t encouraging or reinforcing their behavior, instead, we’re saying “yes your behavior was wrong, it hurt me, and it will not destroy, delay nor, define me”. I can forgive because I know that what happened has a greater purpose. I can forgive because I know that healing (or help) doesn’t come from this world, but from above. And most importantly, I can forgive because I’ve been forgiven.
Forgiveness is for you. I dare you to be free.