This morning, in my prayer time, God showed me that I needed to forgive a particular person. I thought I had forgiven her months ago. I chose to forgive her a long time ago, shortly after the offense occurred. I prayed for her, and invited her places. Whenever negative feelings came up, I repressed them and considered this forgiveness. I would tell myself “Jesus loves her enough to die for her.” I prayed God would just help me to walk in love. I have been with her several times, since the offense occurred. But I still had animosity when I was with her despite all my efforts to obey God.
I finally let it fly. I revealed my true feelings to God, or more likely he revealed my true feelings to me. I got real with myself, the good, the bad and the ugly. The ugliness of my anger and resentment I spewed forth. I had to admit I hated her, no matter how hard I was trying to love her. I didn’t care if I never saw her again. How could anyone treat my wonderful child, so rudely?
I wasn’t free from the anger until I let it all come out and then prayed for God to help me forgive. It sounds so cliche to say “Our feelings need to be validated in order to be resolved”. But I can say from experience this is more than pop psychology. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place (Psalm 51:6).
God wants to deliver us from our sin, and tells us to confess them. We need to get them out. We harbor so many things, because we don’t want them to be true. We want to forgive. We want to walk in love. But too often we try to do it by denying that we are unloving and desperately need God to fill us with his love.
I believe unforgiveness is the most prevalent stronghold Satan has among believers. We use unforgiveness to protect us from pain, rather than facing the pain and trusting God to restore us and defend us. We believe the enemies lies that:
“We don’t have to forgive unless the person apologizes. They aren’t even sorry.”
“Forgiveness makes us a doormat. It is a sign of weakness, and letting the other person win.”
“God doesn’t expect us to forgive when we both know they will do the same thing again.”
Forgiveness is freedom, and the captive we are freeing is ourselves not the offender. Unforgiveness is a prison where the bars are recurring thoughts, lack of peace, depression, impatience, and a critical spirit. Unforgiveness may never affect the person we harbor it against, but it will rob the ones we value most of the love that would flow through us if resentment wasn’t blocking it. It doesn’t only block love, it spews forth anger instead. Unforgiveness is killing us, yet we cling to it as a security blanket rather than trusting in God. The act of forgiving is a giant step on the road to freedom. Freely you have received, freely give (Matt. 10:8).