Forgiveness is probably one of the toughest things to do.
When we are wronged, violated, victimized, accused, targeted, _________________ (fill in the blank as it relates to your experience or someone you may know), it can be almost unbearable to think of forgiving. Perhaps, a starting point is revisiting our definition of forgiveness and its implications. We will cover that in a future post that will center on steps to forgiveness.
In the meantime, if you’re wondering if you’ve been sucked in to the grip of unforgiveness, the below 7 signs may help you in indicating whether it’s time for some release:
- Ruminating – You can’t seem to let it go. Your mind is arrested by the constant replay of the wrong done. Weeks, months, maybe even years later, you still find yourself nursing those wounds as if they just occurred.
- Not taking Responsibility for actions/feelings – You’re sticking to the fact that you are the victim. You may say, “None of this was my fault, and if I happened to be at fault, my actions were warranted because of the situation or what the other party did/said.” There is no willingness to evaluate your own actions.
- Record Keeping – So you may claim to have forgiven, but you sure keep every offense on a mental list. This may cause you to pile up and explode at even the slightest mistake made. Every opportunity is used to remind the offender of what they have done to hurt you and their worth in your eyes.
- Onset of strong emotion when the incident/person crosses your mind – When the incident crosses your mind (which is normal), the sting burns as bad as it did when it happened. You may loose emotional control by continuously slipping into rage, depression, or anxiety every time you think of it.
- Slander – You want everyone to view the circumstance and the person as negatively as you do. Much time is spent gossiping, demeaning, and condemning.
- Seeking revenge – Here is where you are “coming for blood” and you intend to manifest a tangible ease for your suffering. Your goal is to remedy the situation by repaying the offense to the same degree or worse. Note that this step happens as a result of all the other 6 steps combined.
- Unrest – This may manifest as anger, sadness, depression, inability to function, constant irritability or sensitivity, etc. It is a prolonged state of disruption that takes a toll mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Unrest can occur in those who haven’t forgiven and those who believe that they have. For those who believe the latter, this could be indicative of additional residue that may still be lurking under the surface.
When we choose not to forgive, we put ourselves in the “God-Seat” by saying that judgement is ours. We also imprison ourselves to stress, sadness, anger, and hurt. We are robbed of rest and jeopardize not only our physical well-being but our spiritual condition. Forgiving releases the mentality that someone owes you, and humbly reminds you of the mercy that you too will need from someone one day when you make a mistake.
The hidden danger of unforgiveness is the “snowball effect”. What starts as justified pain or anger, slowly rolls around (in our emotions) until it grows into something bigger, harder, colder, and potentially more unmanageable. Unforgiveness doesn’t make anything better with time, but it is guaranteed to make all things worse – for the person holding it.
For the Believer, forgiveness is required in order to receive God’s forgiveness (Matthew 6:14). It is also one of the most vital components for freedom and deliverance. Our worship and Christian walk are hindered by the slime of an unforgiving heart. Our prayers hit the ceiling and bounce right back to us.
Maybe at the time you are reading this, the thought of forgiving that person (or those people) is utterly unthinkable. Take the busy work out of it! This is where you simply say “yes” and let God do the tilling in your heart. Pray this prayer:
Father, I can’t even fathom forgiving ( Insert Persons name here). I’m too sore, too afraid. I know that You require me to forgive in order for me to be forgiven. Soften my heart and help me to see the investment that I am making in myself by releasing this burden. Help me to see how You will mend and defend me. I simply say yes to You allowing my heart grow strong enough to forgive.
In Jesus Name,
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