Forgiveness

Forgiveness
Author: Jaclyn Fitchett, Special Needs Coordinator
I Do, but Do I? - Part 5
I grew up with a general understanding that “hate” is a strong word, and we are not to “hate people.” But six years ago this week, I entered the most challenging period of my life and experienced what I had been taught not to feel toward others—hatred. My marriage was suddenly not what I had trusted it to be, and my 18-year relationship and family of four was reduced to the paperwork and legal proceedings of divorce. My family was shattered, and I was hurt beyond earthly repair.
 
So, what happens when life throws such a challenge your way that you are suddenly hurled into a whirlwind of emotions that eventually leaves you with no other coping mechanism or word other than “hate?”
 
Forgiveness… but, what does forgiveness really mean? How does one even forgive? I mean, some things are unforgivable, right? Just the thought of it elicits so many emotions for me. I appreciate Pastor Tim clarifying that forgiveness is not a feeling and it is not to forget, it is a surrendering of your judgments or situation to God’s hands.

Forgiveness was quite a mystery to me. I knew my hate was unhealthy and unbiblical. But I did not know it was seeping into my life and separating me from God. After more than a year of wrestling with this, I experienced the “God moment" I had been praying for.

Long story short, I was told the following things and learned firsthand just how excruciating it can be to surrender something to the Lord that you don’t fully comprehend.

  1. You must forgive to make room for your Godly purpose.
  2. God wants all of you, and all of you is not available to Him when you are unwilling to forgive.

If you are struggling with forgiveness, try starting where I did—pray for the desire to forgive. Remember, only God is truly capable of offering final judgments, so give that control over to the One who already has it handled. 

After hours of sitting with that bewildering information, I humbled myself and realized that hate was festering inside me, filling the void left in my heart from my divorce. Turns out my hate was not even directed at my ex-husband, as you might expect. I had scapegoated all my disdain for the things that went wrong in my life to another, easy-to-blame, person. Society would not blame me for scapegoating this person. Why would I need to offer forgiveness to them? They are not directly affected by my feelings, they don’t deserve my forgiveness, and I can move on placing all my contempt and blame on my scapegoat…right?

Wrong! Withholding forgiveness was poisoning me and the hope for my new relationships. The void left within me after my divorce was meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Realizing this and offering forgiveness was downright painful. It required a total surrender and trust that God knows best. As Pastor Tim shared on Sunday, “When we extend forgiveness to others, we cultivate love,” and that is something that both parties need when there is an offense.
Do not be conformed to this age. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
– Romans 12:2
If you are struggling with forgiveness, try starting where I did—pray for the desire to forgive. Remember, only God is truly capable of offering final judgments, so give that control over to the One who already has it handled.

This week I encourage you to sit with these questions:

  1. Is there someone I need to forgive? Perhaps my spouse, my parents, or maybe even God? 
  2. Am I ready to let go and let God in so that I can cultivate love? 

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