Stepping Through The Process of Forgiveness
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.
[bctt tweet="But the more I seek control, the more that peace seems to slip right through the cracks." username="NicoleAKauffman"]
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.
[bctt tweet="But when we hold so tightly to our past hurts, we forsake the freedom Christ offers" username="NicoleAKauffman"]
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.
[bctt tweet="I’ve sat in anger and in hurt, desperately trying to protect myself." username="NicoleAKauffman"]
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?
“I want to believe if I’m in control, I won’t get hurt again.” — I love this. When we are hurt by others, it really gives the opportunity to share in the sufferings of Christ and to extend forgiveness. I’m learning how to set boundaries in relationships so that I can live out Proverbs 4:23 in a healthy way.
Such a powerful verse, Amy! Yes, we really do need to work hard to protect our hearts so that we can offer the Lord’s love in a healthy way! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Appreciate your message and exhortation on forgiveness, and thank you for adding in that sometimes it can take time. I can beat myself up so much over the fact that I can’t seem to forgive immediately and completely all at once – like Christ does. Sometimes, even when you think you’ve forgiven and forgotten, old scars start to tingle and itch all over again. Or new hurts drudge up the past hurts. I think the verse, forgive as the Lord forgave you, is just about one of the most difficult verses in the Bible! Thanks for linking up with us at Literacy Musing Mondays!!
Yes, I completely agree, Brandi! Forgiveness is such a process, but there is so much healing when we continually release it to the Lord.
This is a great topic!
Nicole, this is such an important message and we can never hear it enough. Hurts will come our way as part of living in a sin-cursed world and it can be so difficult to get past them. I could really relate to the closing yourself off part. I know I have done that many times. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Donna! I definitely struggle to remain open in times of hurt. But the Lord works so much when we do!
My best friend of four years recently ended our friendship without any explanation whatsoever. I was completely blindsided and we have not spoken since. I am still trying to figure out what happened and continue to ask the Lord for some guidance and closure. Another friend recently pointed out that she thinks it was the fact I was drawing nearer to the Lord and my other friend felt uncomfortable with their own amount of sin in their life. Makes me so sad. I would not have judged and gladly invited them to grow along with me. Guess they weren’t ready 🙁
Broken friendships are so hard, Deanna. I can definitely relate. It is hard to forgive when our hearts were so open and vulnerable with another. But the Lord does work when we are willing. I’m sorry to hear about your friendship. The Lord is working all things for good! I hope you can find healing 🙂
I’m almost a year into my divorce, and I still have a hard time forgiving. I’m telling myself that in time, it will happen.
I’m sorry to hear that, Corey. I admire your willingness. Forgiveness starts with a willing heart. God will transform us and feelings will follow in time.
Forgiveness tends to be the hardest hit it is essential for healing. It takes time. Unforgiveness tends to withold growth. When we don’t forgive and let go we tend to harbor and hover over those things until we are obsessed with it. Sometimes people can’t forgive because they haven’t forgiven themselves. It is better to forgive and grow than to harbor and hurt.
I agree, Crystal. Forgiveness is such a complex process. Thankful we have the Lord to help us walk through it!
Forsaking freedom due to holds on the past ~ ummmm….yes. Great encouragement to forgive and move forward, Nicole. Visiting today via both #raralinkup and #testimonyTuesday
Thanks, Kristi! I’m so glad you stopped by 🙂
Such a powerful message. We receive the gift of freedom when we let go, forgive and accept grace.
Forgiveness is essential for all who desire freedom of soul and spirit. It is a process many times long and difficult, but what you mention about trust, truth and letting go are the steps towards complete freedom. If we allow this to happen in us and God operates in our wounded hearts, we will have the capacity to love even more.
Thanks for sharing, Tayrina! That growth in our capacity to love makes all the work in forgiving so worthwhile. 🙂
You’re right, forgiveness is a process but it certainly can be done. There may be times when we’re sure we’ve forgiven the offender but unforgiveness rears its ugly head at times so we know we need to repeat the process until we can truly say and mean it, that we’ve forgiven them. Blessings, Nicole. Great post!
I agree, Cindy! It definitely is not a once and done sort of thing!
I agree, forgiveness is one of the hardest things. There seems to be something in us that gets a lot of comfort by holding onto the hurt, even though we know it’s damaging us. Thank you for sharing.
Definitely, Penny. I don’t know why we like to hold onto our pain, but there is so much freedom when we finally release it to the Lord. Thank you for sharing 🙂
“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?”
This is what I have to remind myself of. I can’t get lost in my feelings, instead, cry out for God to pull me out of my own thoughts and rest me on His Word. Peace comes every time.
YES. I completely agree, Shana. I definitely can get lost in my feelings too. So glad you stopped by 🙂
I enjoyed this and am going to pin it to my forgiveness board. You might find my post on the Five Excruciating Steps to Forgiveness amusing. I’m glad there is someone else out there not pretending it is an easy process. http://poemachronicles.com/forgiveness/
Thanks, Alice! Forgiveness is HARD. Pretending it isn’t will just cause an isolation and shame for those who struggle. Thanks for speaking truth about it as well 🙂
This post is what I needed to hear. I’m not a religious person but I am currently going through a heartbreak caused by another persons lies. I know I need to accept what has happened, this is what I’m struggling with but I need answers before I think I can move on. It’s breaking my heart right now due to the betrayal
Accepting heartbreak can be SO hard, I’m so sorry that you have to go through that, Candace. When I’ve struggled with this, leaning on the hope of Christ is what gave me the strength to forgive. I’ll be praying for you and that you can find peace and hope in your situation.
Encouraging and much needed post. Forgiving (several times, over and over again) was one of the best choices I ever made. Staying in a place of resentment, hurt and unforgiveness (even though I would say I had forgiven) kept me in a dangerous place. I truly wish I had forgiven earlier. It took a major humbling event to bring it to full completion, but I am free.
Thanks, Christina! Great description there, it does keep us in a dangerous place. I’m so glad you found freedom 🙂
Forgiveness is certainly a process! I’ve been there many times. Thank you for writing this post and giving others encouragement to take their time.
Definitely, Sue. I feel as though everytime I face the process of forgiveness, God has something new to teach me. Thank you for stopping by 🙂