You know how you can forgive someone but then they keep doing the same things to hurt you over and over again? Just how do you deal with that? And then you develop this bitterness toward them and you think it’s kind of justified because even if you forgive them one more time, they are just going to hurt you again. Because it’s not a case where simple forgiveness will work. Because you feel that for forgiveness to work, the aggressor has to change and stop deliberately hurting you. He/she must ask for forgiveness and prove they mean it by not repeating the offensive behaviour. If they do not do this then they do not deserve to be forgiven.
Or let’s say you forgive them. Sincerely from the heart. And you let it go for real. Then one day they do something again and everything they’ve ever done against you comes back with a vengeance, the anger many times multiplied. You go back to square one, struggle with it for a while, and as you seek God, you are able to forgive the person again. On and on the cycle continues…
“Stay away from negative people. Cut out the negative people out of your life. Don’t entertain negativity. You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people. Cutting people out of your life doesn’t mean you hate them, it simply means you respect yourself. Not everyone is meant to stay. Life is short. Don’t waste it with negative people who don’t appreciate you.”
Okay…but what if cutting off that person is not an option? What if that person is really close to you. Like family. What if they are family? Do you cut off your own family members? God’s own design, as the author of the family, was for families to do life together. How then, is it possible that not “everyone is meant to stay”? Why put asunder what God put together? There must be some other way. I mean, how long and how far away do you need to stay from someone in order to get over what they did to you? Does whether you interact with them or never see them at all have any bearing on your own healing process?
Does cutting off the offensive people from our lives really give us the peace and happiness that we hoped to have? Too many of us are carrying around the burden of broken, unresolved relationships. You tell yourself that because you’ve cut them off, you are free. The reality though, is that all you’ve done is burn down a bridge, and what you are left with are its ashes. Useless remains. Like a tree stump that lingers, a painful, forever reminder of a beautiful past that is no more.
Does cutting off the offensive people from our lives really give us the peace and happiness that we hoped to have?
So, how should we deal with it? I see forgiveness as the better way. As hard as forgiveness is, it is our Christian duty. So important is it, that Christ himself said that if you do not forgive others their sins then our heavenly Father WILL NOT forgive your sins. He taught his disciples to pray thus “…forgive us our sins as we forgive others their sins…”
For most of my life, it has been a struggle to forgive repeat offenders. It was difficult to conceive how I could really forgive someone like that, when it was evident that they had it in for me. How could I just let the person go yet as soon as I did, they would just put me down again? Still I would forgive each and every time, and ask God to help me get along with the person. Problem is that after a long while, due to frustration resulting from the disconnect between their repeated attitude/actions and my unending efforts to live in peace, I would EXPLODE and it wouldn’t be pretty. Lots of casualties and collateral damage.
But I have been learning that forgiveness is only just the first in a series of steps.
Once you have made the decision to forgive, you should actively seek reconciliation with those who hurt us or keep hurting us. Work wholeheartedly towards resolving the problem. Aim for mutual understanding.
This may require the help of a qualified individual, to help the parties find healing and move forward together. Not easy by any means, but definitely the way to go.
Consider Joseph. After all the evil his brothers had carried out against him: plotting to kill him, selling him as a slave, lying to their dad that he had been mauled to death by an animal…after all this, Joseph had this to say:
“Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. [Genesis 50:19-21]
Of late, this message of forgiveness is one I’ve been seeing all over and hearing everywhere over and over and over again. I believe God is saying something to me and to his people, particularly at this time when he desires to visit us with revival. We cannot be vessels of both darkness and light. And unforgiveness is the blackest darkness. Any time I start going down that path, thinking of the many times a certain person has wronged me and how much perhaps they hate me, I can literally feel darkness start to creep up on me. And if I entertain the dark thoughts, it doesn’t take long for them to totally engulf me. I guess it’s time. Time to once and for all be done with unforgiveness/bitterness/hate. Struggling with unforgiveness shouldn’t be a thing anymore. For me and for everyone who calls him/herself a Christian. Be intentional about resolving issues with those who have wronged you. You can do it.