A few times as this series as progressed, I have mentioned the freeing power of forgiveness. Today I want to share a powerful quote on forgiveness with you.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.~Lewis B. Smedes
In that quote you can find the key to why forgiveness is so important. Once you start forgiving – true forgiveness, not the ‘look at how righteous I am’ false forgiveness – you will find that the feelings that come with it are very freeing.
We often don’t realize just how much we’re held back by the pain, anger, grudges and resentment that we hold. By choosing to hold a grudge, we create a prison that keeps us trapped in those negative feelings. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no stranger to this.
Once we truly step onto the path to true forgiveness, though, and commit to the work and effort and soul-searching involved, we find that we are setting ourselves free.
Does it really come as a surprise?
Far too many people think that forgiveness is about the other person. They think that we forgive in order to release the person who wronged us. After all, the other person knows what they did, and if they’re a decent person at all, they must feel bad about it. Right?
And so, when you feel that way, you hold back on the gift of forgiveness, believing that you’re withholding something that they want but aren’t willing to ask for.
Okay, that happens.
But not nearly as often as you might think.
We’re all, at heart, quite selfish, and we all think that it’s all about us.
So, in most situations, while you’re stewing and holding on to your anger, waiting for them to come forth and beg for the gift of forgiveness, they’ve moved on and aren’t wasting a thought to the matter.
Since we’re sitting there, holding on to that grudge, though, we can’t move on. We can’t get to the point where we let go of the negative feelings. And while we’re wrapped up in that anger and pain, we miss out on all the good stuff around us.
Forgiveness can fix that.
It’s important to realize that forgiveness really isn’t about making the other party feel better. Even if that happens sometimes, it’s a very secondary consideration. Forgiveness isn’t about letting them get away with something, accepting their toxic behavior or bringing them back into our lives.
Not even close.
You can forgive someone for your own sake and still choose to have nothing at all to do with them in the future.
You can choose to forgive someone and let them back into your life (or not) without the same trusting and close relationship you once had.
The important thing is that, once you truly forgive those who hurt you, you have choices. It is very possible to look at someone who wronged you terribly, forgive them completely and then feel compassionate love for them. After all, we’re all hurting in our own way, and so much of the pain we cause others is because of hurts we haven’t faced and forgiven!
But you don’t have to bring them back into your life at all.
You might choose to have that person in your life in some form.
You might choose to never speak to them again and send them off on their life with forgiveness, love and best wishes.
Whatever you choose, and it is totally your choice, forgiveness means that you cut the ties that gave them power over you, your emotions and your actions. The thought of what happened no longer causes you anger and pain, and that’s a very freeing feeling indeed.
That’s when you’ll know you’ve truly forgiven, when the feeling that comes is one of peace and freedom. Examine your feelings as you root out the grudges and hurts. This is the peace that allowed Jesus to look down and ask forgiveness for those who were torturing and killing him as they were in the act of doing it.
If you’re looking for a couple of amazing resources that will help you grow in your faith, which go along very well with our study on forgiveness, I can’t say enough good things about these:
My husband and I are working through this fabulous little Bible study and devotional together this spring – and making a commitment to doing it each spring. We Choose Rebirth is for couples who want to renew their relationship. Like this Forgiveness series, it will challenge you in ways you may not have expected!
Restored & Renewed is a fabulous Bible Study, geared toward women. With beautiful printables that affirm our worth in Christ, colouring pages to help us relax and so much more, this devotional, Bible Study and journal package are just what you need to renew your soul in just a few minutes a day.