Dear (Insert your name here),
I don’t know if this will help, but I want you to know that you are not alone in how you feel. I will tell you that I struggled with forgiveness toward my Mother for most of my life. My mother abused me terribly when I was a child, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There was a time when I hated her so much I not only wished she was dead, but even plotted her murder! When you’ve been hurt and betrayed so many times by someone who’s supposed to love you the pain can almost become more than you can bear. It is stressful, and your body reacts to stress. It’s been proven many times over that mental and emotional issues often trigger and are at the core of many physical illnesses. I know because I’ve experienced it first hand.
First of all let me tell you that forgiveness isn’t an impossible dream. It can be acheived even toward those who have wronged you terribly. Often the desire to forgive, and the guilt over not wanting to forgive, and not being able to forgive become a catch 22. These thoughts create a loop in our minds that keeps playing over and over again thus putting us in a place where we always feel the pain of the betrayal, and the guilt over not being able to forgive. It’s a terrible place to be.
I’ve forgiven my mother. I’ve forgiven her for the past, and I forgive her for those times in the present when she still tries to hurt me. How can I do this? First of all, I had to change the way I looked at forgiveness, and how I thought about it. As human beings, we tend to look at forgiveness through an emotional lens because our feelings are so strong about it. We feel therefore we react. As in so much of life, it’s often our approach that gets us into trouble, and causes trouble for those around us, and this is especially true in the realm of forgiveness.
People like to beat each other up over forgiveness, and try to one up each other. Well if you hadn’t done this, then I wouldn’t have done that, and what you did was so much worse, than what I did….ect. I’m not saying you’ve done this, but I know by your own admission that you are still holding on to the hurt. I’m not accusing you nor trying to make you feel bad, but truth is truth. This is one of the things that makes forgiveness so hard. When we’ve been hurt, we don’t forget. There’s a lot of people who go around spreading a lot of cockamamie nonsense and garbage about forgiveness. One of my favorites is, “You haven’t forgiven if you haven’t forgotten.” Ever heard that one before? Talk about laying a guilt trip on someone! By the way, this is one of Satan’s favorite ploys, and he’ll try to use it to destroy your relationship with Christ at worst, and make you ineffective in your life at the very least. The truth is you’ll never forgive anyone if you believe this garbage because no human being ever forgets the things that have caused them deep pain. Sadly, too many people, try to use forgiveness, the getting and giving of, as a tool for manipulation and abuse. It’s sad that human beings can find such a myriad of ways to be cruel to each other, and you can thank Satan for that because he’s a master at it.
If you truly desire to forgive and receive forgiveness, and get that nasty loop out of your head, there’s only one way to do it. In order to truly offer forgiveness you must understand what it is, and what it is not. First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling or emotional response. If you wait to feel like you’ve forgiven someone you may be waiting for the rest of your life. Nowhere in the Bible does it say anywhere that anyone felt like forgiving, or that you have to wait until you feel like it before you can forgive someone. Go ahead, and look you won’t find any reference to feeling forgiveness in the word of God. So understand that the act of forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with our emotions or the feelings of other people.
Forgiveness is a decision of the will. You have to consciously decide that you’re going to give forgiveness, to extend forgiveness even to those who have hurt you regardless of how you feel about it. A careful study of the word of God makes it very clear. God expects us to forgive those who have hurt us. Nowhere does He say you must forget, or that you must deny how you feel. Forgiveness is a decision and action based on that decision. When forgiveness becomes an act of the will rather than a response to emotion then forgiving those who hurt us becomes achievable. If you want to be able to understand forgiveness then look to God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as your example. I suggest you do a Bible study on forgiveness. Start with Mat. 6:14-15, and go on from there.
Forgiveness is about the will, about making a choice, about making a decision, that no matter what someone does to us, we will not treat them in the same way they treat us. Sometimes it’s a process. Sometimes, it’s a minute by minute decision. The important thing to remember is that we must be willing. To this day, my mother doesn’t treat me much better than she ever did. Do I like it? No. Do I treat her in the same way she treats me? No. How do I forgive her and continue to forgive her in spite of it all? I remember this: I’ve said and done horrible, dispicable, awful things in my life to other people, and I’ve sinned greatly against God! Then I remember that Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of those awful, horrible, dispicable things I did, and forgave me for each and every one of them. Then I remember that God loves me so much that He continues to bless my life daily with His goodness, mercy, and compassion.
I can tell you this in conclusion. God doesn’t just want us to forgive. He demands it! Why? Because it’s an affornt to the love and forgiveness He extended and continues to extend to us each and every day. Being forgiving doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves in the line of fire all the time, that we have to stand in front of someone and let them berate us over and over again. It simply means that we choose to treat those people, and to extend to those people the same thing that God does for us.
There for a long time, I didn’t want to forgive, couldn’t forgive. In my own strength, I could not do it. I was filled with bitterness and anger and hurt, and because of it I paid a high price, and my family did, too. In case, you didn’t know, your family stays and moves within the same circles that you do, and they’re affected just as much as you are by the decisions and choices you make. Do you really want them there? My relationship with God went south, too. You destroy your intimacy with God when you refuse to walk as He wants you to. It’s not that God stops loving you, but when you walk outside of His will, you choke off the blessings He desires to give you because He cannot and will not condone sin in your life. When you don’t think you can, remember this, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.” Phillipians 4:13.