What a journey the last few weeks have been. I have been blown away by your love and support. There were many evenings, where I laid in bed shocked at the responses from you all. Some of you shared your own stories of hurt with me. Some of you reached out to ask for help on how to move past the pain. I am humbled. The last few weeks have honestly brought me joy, to see that God is using what the devil intended to harm me, for my good and for His glory. Are you ready for the last step? Let’s get to it.The final thing to remember and understand is what forgiveness is and what it is not. Lets first start with four things that forgiveness is not.
1) Forgiveness is not forgetting. How could I ever forget what happened? How could anyone simply dismiss a tragedy? You can’t and it’s not expected. What happened is reality. Nothing changes that.
2) Forgiveness is not pretending it didn’t happen. I have seen many people who have tried to cope with their pain by simply sweeping it under the rug and refusing to face it. Let me tell you, it isn’t working out too well for them.
3) Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Don’t get me wrong, reconciliation can be a part of forgiveness, but it also may not. Someone has broken our trust and that can be hard to mend. I have witnessed the power of forgiveness work so deeply that relationships are fully restored. I’ve experienced it myself. I have also experienced forgiveness towards abusers but there is not an existing relationship with them. Forgiveness does not equal trust.
4) Forgiveness is not a feeling. I’m not sure you’ll ever “feel” like forgiving someone who has hurt you so deeply. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a choice of choosing what forgiveness really is.
Forgiveness is choosing to hand your pain, shame, disappointment, hurt and despair over to Jesus. In Isaiah 53:4, it says that He (Jesus) takes our pain and our suffering, but we have to give it to Him. We have to surrender that tender piece of our heart.
Forgiveness is also choosing to give yourself permission to live again. If you’re like me, until true forgiveness had taken place, I was held prisoner to the people that hurt me. I was held prisoner through limiting behaviours, bad thoughts, anger and sadness. I remember one day so clearly, being so fed up that these people were still affecting me, even though one had committed suicide and the other I hadn’t seen in years. I remember praying and asking Jesus for a miracle. I needed a new heart. The amazing thing is, that as I genuinely prayed the prayer I wrote out for you last week and gave Jesus all my yucky feelings and limiting thoughts and behaviours, He gave me a new heart. I didn’t realize it right away. It took time, but it happened. If Jesus would do this for me, He will certainly do it for you.
My beautiful sister-in-law shared a message with our church several weeks ago. She shared a term that hit me like a two by four in the head (don’t you just love moments like that,..lol). The term she used was being a “prisoner of hope”. Forgiveness truly is choosing to be a prisoner of hope rather than a prisoner of pain. This term is found in Zechariah 9:12 (ESV):
“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
These steps of forgiveness have come full circle. Return to Jesus. Place your hope in Him. Allow Him to love you, to show you love, to teach you love. When we give Him our hurt His promise is to restore. Let me tell you, that I have never been happier. I have never experienced more peace than I do now. I feel absolutely no shame, sadness or pain over my past. I have never, in my whole life, known my purpose, like I do now.
I want to encourage you, right where you are, begin to let it go. Pull up that prayer from last week. You’ll feel resistance to do it, you may be angry as you begin to pray. You may cry. That’s alright and that is normal. The point is to begin.
I want you to know that you are not alone in your journey. I would like to make myself available to pray for each one of you. If you would like prayer, all you need to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t need to tell me who you’re forgiving or why you need to forgive. You can just say, “Mary, please pray for me”. I commit to praying for you for the next 30 days as you begin to walk through being a prisoner of pain to a being prisoner of hope.
Much love to you. Be brave and have courage.