Forgive, Let Go, and Live
“Even as a little girl, when kids would cross me in any way, I never let them back into my good graces.”
My mom’s words echoed in my spirit and found rest there for many years of my life. Similarly, my father never forgot a single offense that anybody committed against him. He and my mom argued frequently about things that happened or were said in the far distant past. Although they served faithfully and sacrificially inside and outside the walls of the church, unforgiveness plagued them. Near the end of both their lives, God’s redeeming grace prevailed and they finally released the pain of holding onto the hot coals of unforgiveness.
With such a heritage, I knew unforgiveness was poised to become a stronghold in my life. The pattern had already developed. If people offended me, I never viewed them the same. Depending on the nature of the relationship, I would either keep my emotional distance or make a mental note never to trust, favor, or include them again in my dealings. My most common tactic was to hide behind being “too busy” to interact with them—ever. They finally got the message: Once you offended me, you were out. No three strikes policy here!
It was not until I saw how one of my beloved spiritual mentors modeled true forgiveness that I began to make headway in conquering this emotional giant. She frequently proclaimed, “I release everybody who has hurt me.” Unforgiveness had wreaked havoc in my life long enough. It had caused me to write off several relatives, friends, coworkers, and others. I spent way too much time in my head rehearsing the wrongs people perpetrated against me and imagining the awful things I could have said or done to retaliate if I weren’t a Christian. In my heart, I wanted to please God. As I delved into His word, I realized two truths that were hard pills to swallow:
- God had foreknowledge of every single offense ever perpetrated against me; yet, in His infinite wisdom, He chose not to prevent it. His Divine purpose was obviously greater than my comfort or convenience. Therefore, I embraced the truth that every hurt will ultimately work together for my good because I love God and He has a purpose for every thing that comes my way (Romans 8:28). Perhaps this was the truth that caused the victims’ families to forgive Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people in a June 17 shooting at a Charleston, Carolina church.
- My decision to forgive–or not–has a direct bearing on whether God forgives my transgressions (Mark 11:25). Simply put, if I don’t forgive others, He isn’t going to forgive me. I don’t want to suffer such dire spiritual consequences.
Life has presented many opportunities for me to practice the forgiveness principles found in the Word. Unforgiveness is a giant I could never conquer in my own strength. Thank goodness my Heavenly Father gives me “the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT). Therefore, from my childhood molester to the Ponzi scheme crook who duped me out of thousands of dollars to the doctor who botched my foot surgery, I’ve released them all. I’m free. I’m on a mission to forgive, let go, and live.
Bestselling author of 30 Days to Taming Your Tongue