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What is Forgiveness?

Some of you are cringing right now thinking about forgiveness. This subject usually brings up some pretty strong emotions mostly because what forgiveness is isn’t understood. Here are some misconceptions about forgiveness:

Let’s take these misconceptions of what is forgiveness one at a time.

Does it let the other person off the hook?

When someone hurts you or wrongs you, they owe you. They have incurred a debt with you and if you are like most people, you want payment. If you forgive them it feels as if you lose repayment. Well, forgiveness is a transference of a debt to another. The debt is now owed to them instead of us.

The offender is not released from paying for what they have done, instead, they now owe the debt to Christ. We take their debt and we forgive it by giving it to the Lord. The person who hurt you isn’t involved in this decision, it is yours alone.

The Lord tells us to forgive so that we can receive forgiveness for our own wrongdoing. When we forgive, we give Him the debt owed us. But, Christ will forgive them, you say?

Here’s the deal – we give to the Lord the debts owed us and He is wise enough to know what to do with them. He might take it to the cross. He may provide consequences to help them come to Him. He may hold it against them for eternity. You give Him the debt and let go. Allow Him to do with it as He will.

Does it mean you have to let the offender back in your life?

Forgiveness, by our definition, is a transference of debt, no part of this includes a required restoration of relationship.

Some people are not safe to be around, physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. We have to set good, healthy boundaries with these people and that might include keeping them out of your daily life.

Some people have hurt you and when you forgive them it might mean that you do restore the relationship. Each incident is to be taken individually.

The Lord forgave Peter and restored the relationship after his betrayal but He kept good boundaries with the Pharisees. Be as wise as the Lord by actually speaking with Him about the one you are forgiving. He may want you back in a relationship with them when you don’t or not want you there when you do. Only He is wise enough to know what is best.

Is it forgive and forget?

When we forgive, we still remember, BUT because Christ now holds that debt we can’t bring it up against the other person. Remember, they don’t owe you a thing after you forgive. However, a trust may take time to rebuild.

After forgiving, if you are rebuilding a relationship with that person, they need to show you that they are a safe place for your heart. That happens as they consistently are.

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Is it not feeling the pain anymore?

If you wait for the pain to be gone before you forgive, you may never do it. It is forgiveness that helps the heart to heal.

After forgiving the weight of the debt lifts and we can start to heal. Forgiveness is more about us than the person that hurt us. Unforgiveness damages us sometimes more than the original offense.

How exactly do you forgive?

Find a time to be quiet with the Lord. While in His presence, bring the offense up and allow yourself to really feel it. Think through all that this offense did to you. Now, gather it up and offer it to the Lord. You are giving to Him all that you have held against the other. Trust that He will do what is perfect with it.

Feel the weight lift as you give this to the Lord. Unforgiveness brings bondage, so giving it to God should bring some freedom. Let go and give this to Him. If you are still feeling pain, that is normal, just let Christ come to you and bring His comfort.

Level ground at the foot of the cross

You, I, those who have hurt us are all responsible for the Lord had to die. It is how He chose to forgive each of us. None of us is less responsible. Christ died for us all and all of us that have accepted His forgiveness are forgiven. How can we choose to not forgive those standing next to us? How could you not choose to forgive yourself when Christ so obviously has?

What if the damage done to you is too great?

Some sins do enormous amounts of damage to our souls and, this type of injury sometimes needs a counselor’s help. Do this soon. Don’t carry around great hurt when it is available to you to receive His healing.

I have worked with many people who have experienced tremendous trauma and injury. Some carried this pain around for many years thinking that they could not be healed. But, our God is amazing, gentle, powerful, and able. Time after time He has healed completely and set those free who had been held captive by the injuries caused by others. And they were enabled to forgive. His healing is available to you as well.

If you are in need of counseling and would like to work with me, please use the contact form. You absolutely can forgive and heal and I would love to be part of that with you. If not me, please find a Christian counselor who can help you – don’t wait.

“I work with individuals to actually find themselves in Christ and have their lives truly function well in Him. Often I am serving those most hurt by the world – those who have experienced severe trauma and abuse and helping them to find complete healing from the pain and the memories.

I have seen the Lord heal hundreds. Nothing has been too difficult for Him.”