We were definitely making progress now. Still, the full journey to healing wasn’t complete. There was still one major road to travel on the road to healing.
Having been down this road so many times before in life, I should have known it was coming---and yet I still found myself surprised when the Holy Spirit asked me, “Have you forgiven the person who hurt you yet?”
What? Honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it. I was so busy dealing with the struggle, managing my own personal pain, and trying to keep the fallout to a minimum that I hadn’t even thought about the fact that I needed to forgive the person who caused me so much pain and turmoil.
Still, when as soon as the Holy Spirit prompted by heart, I realized that my healing could not be complete until I chose to forgive like Jesus forgave the people who hurt Him.
What does it mean to forgive like Jesus?
1. Realize that they don’t realize what they are doing.
Luke 23:34 says, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Think about it: Jesus was being executed in the most horrendous way known in the world at that time; yet He was completely innocent of any crimes. He’d just been lied about, falsely accused, betrayed, abandoned by His closest companions, and was now being tortured. Yet, even in these most dire of circumstances, he was able to look all the people He had ever right to hold things against and never forgive and say, “They have absolutely no idea what they are doing.”
How did this apply to my situation?
For me it meant that I had to look beyond my feeling of pain and the problems that were created and understand that the person who had hurt me was just acting out of their own pain. Looking at it from a completely objective point of view I had to admit that they probably never did intend to hurt me. They were simply acting and reacting out of pain in their heart and mind. The truth is that hurting people hurt people.
My pastor likes to say that every person has a garbage bucket. Anyway, the point is that all of us have junk that we’re carrying around with us. If we don’t properly process and dispose of the “junk” in our buckets, it eventually overflows and spills out onto everyone who has even the slightest contact with us.
Part of my healing process was realizing that the one who was hurting me had a very very full garbage bucket. Reality was that they didn’t mean to hurt me, it was just happening because they hadn’t dealt with their issues. Like Jesus I had to say, “Father forgive them, they don’t have a clue what they are doing.”
2. Admit there are things to forgive and choose to forgive.
Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Here’s the deal: Just because you understand WHY someone acts the way they do, doesn’t mean that what they did wasn’t wrong and you don’t still have to work through the process of forgiving them.
Look at the Scripture again: “Bear with each other” is the part where we realize they have an overflowing “garbage bucket”; yet the verse doesn’t end there. It goes on to say, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
On my journey, this meant that I had to start by addressing all of the ways I’d been hurt and then before God choosing to forgive my offender for all of these things.
Did I talk to them about all of these things?
NO WAY!!! Trust me, they weren’t there---as I said before any attempts at resolve were met with reasons they were right and I was wrong.
Instead, I made a list of all the ways I’d been hurt, offended, and damaged.
Turned out, it was a very long list as I poured out EVERYTHING they had done.
What was the purpose of the list? It purged my heart. It cleaned out all of the poison. There it was in black and white: the offenses were real and I had a reason to be hurt.
Then I went over each item on the list and said, “Heavenly Father, I choose to forgive them for…..” One by one, I chose forgiveness.
Then I got rid of the list.
Why? Because Jesus gets rid of our lists.
Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Micah 7:19 says, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
If Jesus can do that for the ways I’ve sinned against Him, then the least I can do is throw away the list of ways I’ve been offended. After all, the list was only made to help me heal, not to keep a record of wrongs.
3. Pray for the one who hurt you.
Matthew 5:43-44 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”
This was the next Scripture that the Holy Spirit brought into my mind after I made my list and chose to forgive. Along with it came the command, “Start praying for them every day.”
Seriously? I have to pray for them?
I don’t want to pray for them---yet, that’s what God has called me to do.
Since then, I have prayed for their healing, their deliverance, prayed that they grow in their relationship with Jesus and develop stronger character. I pray that they learn to act better and have healthier stronger relationships. I pray that God blesses them and helps them to grow in every way—spiritually, emotionally, mentally and socially.
Without a doubt, every time I have followed God’s command and prayed for the people who hurt me, it has helped my heart heal---this time included.
4. Do not take revenge of any kind---including verbal.
1 Peter 3:9 says, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Okay, this one is hard! It’s so tempting to want to take revenge and get back at someone when they’ve hurt us. We want them punished. We want them to feel pain. Too often we think that if we teach them a lesson then maybe they’ll change (that almost sounds Christian doesn’t it?)
Yet, it’s not our job to teach them a lesson or to take revenge. We need to let that to God.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m not a vengeful person---I would never actually be able to carry out an act of revenge, I’m just too nice.”
You might want to reconsider after you hear the specific instructions the Holy Spirit gave me.
Ready? Hold your hats, Ladies!! During my time of prayer the Holy Spirit said specifically, “Do not take verbal revenge---Don’t talk badly about either the person or the situation to other people. Do not get revenge by ruining their reputation. Keep your mouth closed.”
Now that’s hard!!!
It was even harder to do when opportunities arose and I had to bite my lip and say nothing or focus on the positive aspects and say something nice.
Yet no matter how hard it was, I have to admit that it is true: verbal revenge is one of the easiest and sweetest ways to get revenge and our tongues can be vicious weapons. However, if we are going to forgive like Jesus did, we have to resist this temptation.
5. Do good to those who hurt you.
Luke 6:27-34 says, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
If we are going to be followers of Jesus who forgive like He forgives, we are going to have to find ways of doing good things for those who hurt us.
This will mean different things for each of us. In my situation, the Holy Spirit gave me a specific lists of things that I needed to do for the person who hurt me.
Did it change them?
Instead, it changed me. I helped me to heal.
I am no longer walking around hurting, bitter and broken, but I am strong, healthy, and able to function not out of a place of emotion, but from a rational perspective where I make intelligent choices and do the right thing.
In this situation, I have finally reached me destination: I am healed.
What about you?
Where are you on this journey?
It is my hope that this article series has been a guidepost to you---like a sign that gives direction on a highway saying, “Healing is this way.” I pray that you will follow the signs.
Healing for your heart, your soul, and your mind is available when you apply the principles of the Bible like ointment to your life. As you choose to live by God’s Word, you will become stronger, healthier, and more able to overcome the obstacles of life rather than be defeated by them.
That is the journey to healing---may you reach your destination soon.