I’d bet you could relate to me when I say that I’ve been hurt-more than once.
Sometimes the same person hurts over and over, and other times, it’s a hurt big enough to push you away for good.
Friends. Family. Spouses. We can’t avoid the reality that we are all broken people and sometimes in that brokenness, we hurt others.
I will be the first to say that I’ve closed off my heart and withheld forgiveness too many times in the midst of my hurt.
We can see that pattern so clearly in our younger years.
Kids are so quick to spout out, “You’re not my friend anymore.” Or to throw out words from a hurting heart, “I hate you” and “I never want to talk to you again.”
They are open, transparent, vulnerable. And yet they forgive so quickly.
They haven’t been hardened by repeated hurts. They haven’t yet taught their hearts to shut out another’s brokenness for the sake of their own.
How can we forgive when we’ve trained our hearts to remained closed? How can we forge ahead in forgiveness when we want to shrink back in hurt and anger?
As deeply as we’ve taught our hearts to hold onto our hurt for the sake of protecting ourselves, we must retrain ourselves to let go and forgive.
It won’t be a snap-of-the-fingers kind of thing.
Retraining your heart to live out forgiveness is a process. But trust that God is working with you on this.
He calls us to a forgiving heart and as we earnestly seek Him, He will answer.
So what does this process of forgiveness look like? And how do we go about retraining our hearts?
A Process of Trust
You may have been hurt, mistreated, abused. You may have felt left out, abandoned, unloved. These are all a result of the sinful and broken world we live in.
It’s hard to give our trust when we have been treated this way.
I know that when I feel these hurts, I close up and want control. I want to believe that if I’m in control, I won’t be hurt again.
But the more I seek control, the more that peace seems to slip right through the cracks.
It is only when I place my trust in God that I can even begin to face these hurts.
We all place our trust somewhere. I encourage you to seek to discover where it is that your trust rests.
Sometimes I find bits and pieces of my trust scattered about. Some with God, but some with myself, my spouse, my job.
God is the only one who we can fully rely on. Ask Him to help you place your trust fully in Him. This is the first step to living from a heart of forgiveness.
A Process of Letting Go
This is the hardest part for me. I fear that if I let go of my hurt, I’m only opening myself up to another attack.
But when we hold so tightly to our past hurts, we forsake the freedom Christ offers.
When we hold so tightly to our past hurts, we allow ourselves to constantly relive our pain.
Letting go takes time, it takes trust and it takes a heart set on God’s promises.
Seek out God’s promises to you. Ask Him to give you peace as you release your grip on your hurt. And as you begin to let it go, rely on your trust in Him.
A Process of Truth
Forgiveness isn’t easy. I wouldn’t be writing about it if it was.
I’ve wrestled with trust, with letting go and with forgiving. I’ve sat in anger and in hurt, desperately trying to protect myself.
But God is the only one who can protect us.
As you wrestle with forgiveness, remember these truths.
It is okay to be angry.
It is what you do with that anger that God calls you to pay close attention to. Give it to the Lord.
In your anger, do not sin. -Ephesians 4:26.
It is okay that it takes time.
Forgiveness is a commitment. It requires a willing heart. But God is the one who changes hearts.
The Holy Spirit inside you is working to make you new. Commit to the process of forgiveness and God will come through.
God loves you and is working for your good.
He knows your hurt. He knows your story. He knows your fears. And He wants to work all things for your good.
No matter how discouraged you are, remember this truth. He is working for your good. In that, you can find strength to press on, in confidence that if God is with you, who can be against you?
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