We all have examples in our lives of times we have or should have forgiven someone.
I will give you an example of forgiveness from my own life.
I have been a Christian since I was eleven. After I was married there was a situation where I felt extremely jealous of how my in-laws were preferring other kids in the family over mine. My kids were being left out.
This jealousy, bitterness and resentment consumed me. So much so that I started experiencing stomach pains.
One day as I was thinking about it, the Lord spoke to my spirit. “Look at them,” He said.
I envisioned them. They were going about their merry lives, happy as ever.
“Now look at you,” He said.
I was miserable. “Who has your jealousy and bitterness hurt?”
I realized it had hurt me, not them. I determined right then to forgive them. In my heart and mind, I let it go.
The situation did not change. They still spent more time with the other kids than with mine. However, I had peace instead of experiencing all the emotions I had felt before. I had no more stomach pains.
Let me just add one thought here–One way to obtain happiness is learning to deal with and accept things you cannot change. I had no control over how they treated my kids.
As time went on, occasionally, something would happen to cause those old feelings of jealousy to come back. And I had to decide to let it go and forgive them once again.
One day, one of these same in-laws told my then six-year-old son to leave their home and not come back. This was devastating to me. I had never experienced anything like this before. I loved my son and was, of course, very protective of him.
I also loved the person who did that. I could not stand the thought of there being a rift within the family.
I wept about it for weeks.
They eventually sent a letter of apology, saying they had been under a lot of stress and so on and so forth.
I had a decision to make. I could accept the apology at face value and forgive them. Or I could remain angry with them–cut off all ties. And continue to be miserable.
I decided to forgive them and go back to their house. I do not regret the decision. My kids and I benefitted from the restored relationship.
For years, I didn’t think about the incident except in passing. When I did think of it, I didn’t have the feeling of bitterness and resentment. And I didn’t think of it every time I saw the relative.
I thought all the feelings regarding this incident were completely resolved. However, years later, when that son was in high school, the same relative made a critical remark about him which caused all those wounded emotions to come rushing back—feelings of anger and bitterness.
I had to work through the process of forgiveness all over again. Which I did.
I know the incidences I’ve mentioned are nothing compared to what you might have experienced. Things beyond your control – often for years.
But you can forgive them. I promise. The first step is being willing to. You will be so much happier and at peace when you do.
Do it for yourself. And for those you love.
Remember, forgiveness is a process, and you might have to release things again and again until you are completely free. And forgiveness has truly taken place.
Each day is a gift. Decide today to let go of the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.
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