“Your decisions today, both big and small, determine the direction your life will take tomorrow.” Craig Groeschel
Our lives are made up of our decisions that we make. There are some decisions that matter more than others. For example, when Emily & I got married last summer that was a really big decision, and I’m glad we made it.
Choosing which coffee to drink while I’m sitting and writing this (flat white in case you’re interested) was a much smaller decision.
One of the decisions that will affect every friendship and every relationship at some point is the decision to forgive.
Forgiveness is needed because we don’t always make the best decisions and neither do others.
To help us understand what forgiveness is I want to share with you 6 myths about what forgiveness is not:
Myth 1: Forgiveness is a feeling
Forgiveness is not a feeling we have but a choice that we make.
When we’ve been hurt, the last thing we feel like doing is forgiving, so must start by choosing to forgive. Often our feelings do catch up with us but it’s usually the choice is made first then our emotions come later, and sometimes the feeling may never come.
Myth 2: Forgiveness is always easy
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
Forgiveness is hard!
When we’ve been wronged, we feel hurt, and therefore we feel justified holding onto our anger and bitterness. Forgiveness is surrendering our right to hurt someone back if they hurt us. Forgiving someone is our antidote for the anger we feel against someone.
Forgiveness can be a hard decision to make. Forgiveness requires courage and strength. However, it’s so worth it.
Myth 3: Forgiveness is always instant
Yes, forgiveness is a decision in the moment but it is also an ongoing decision.
We need God’s help to forgive and to continue making that decision to forgive. If somebody has hurt us we can decide right now to forgive, and that’s great, but as soon as we see our spouse, our colleagues or our friends again, or whoever it is that wronged us, we need to continue to choose to forgive.
The choice to forgive takes place in a moment and that choice needs to be lived out and reaffirmed each day.
You might not feel like it’s even possible to forgive, there may be a really deep hurt or abuse that you’ve suffered, you might need to go on a journey to be able to forgive. But you can start that journey towards forgiving someone wherever you are today.
Myth 4: Forgiveness affirms the wrong done
Forgiveness is not agreeing with what someone has done to you and saying that it’s ok. But it’s choosing to move on from it.
It’s choosing not to raise that matter again.
It’s choosing not to gossip to others about it.
It’s choosing not to dwell on the matter myself.
Sometimes trust can be restored over time, but sometimes it can’t or shouldn’t. It may not always be possible to reconcile every relationship and that’s ok.
“Forgiveness does not automatically restore trust but forgiveness does open the door to the possibility that trust can be regained.” Gary Chapman
Myth 5: Forgiveness is just for me to do to others
Other people make mistakes or cause us hurt but sometimes we hurt others through our own actions. We have to also learn to forgive ourselves.
If God has forgiven you, who are you to withhold forgiveness from yourself or from anyone else? Maybe it’s time to forgive yourself.
Myth 6: Unforgiveness is an option
The word ‘Unforgiveness’ is underlined red on Microsoft Word. It’s not recognised as valid.
I believe unforgiveness is not an option, because hurt people hurt people.
Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. When we withhold forgiveness, we hurt ourselves.
Holding onto bitterness and anger through unforgiveness toward others is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat.
Really, unforgiveness isn’t an option. Forgiveness has the power to set you free from bitterness and anger.
Where do we begin?
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
God’s forgiveness is our starting point.
God’s love for you is awesome, it’s radical and it’s more than we deserve. He sees you and I, inside and out, and He loves us.
Forgiveness is an expression of that love. Each of us need to know and experience God’s forgiveness for our sin. Jesus died on the cross and was raised to life again so that every one of us could experience divine forgiveness!
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
Before we were even looking for forgiveness, God extended forgiveness toward us. The cross of Jesus is the starting point for us as we seek to forgive others who have hurt us.
Knowing God’s vertical forgiveness gives us power to extend horizontal forgiveness to others.
No one else can choose to forgive on your behalf.
It is your responsibility how you act and react. We can’t wait for someone to ask for forgiveness, it’s a choice each one of us needs to make.
Take a moment to reflect on the significance of the Cross and that you have been forgiven.
Is there someone you need to forgive?
Do you need to forgive yourself?
Do you need to experience God’s forgiveness for yourself?
Pray and ask God for His help.
Thank you so much for reading, I’d love to hear from you, have you had to forgive someone, would you add anything to the list of myths? Please leave a comment or let me know on Instagram or Twitter. If you found this encouraging and helpful please share it with friends, Dan 🙂