The Pain of Unforgiveness

I recently journaled about forgiveness, or more accurately, accepting forgiveness. I wrote, what I thought, was a pretty powerful piece about guilt and worthiness, and how we should accept forgiveness when it’s offered, even if we don’t feel like we deserve it. God will forgive us, when we ask. It’s pretty simple, and as usual, human beings like to complicate things.

Well, right after I wrote that, I realized something…. Here I was talking about forgiveness, yet, I’ve been wrestling for a long time about forgiving a family member. I can talk about accepting forgiveness, yet didn’t think about extending it to someone else.

Not wanting to be a hypocrite, I’m coming clean here on this blog. Please tell me I’m not the only one who wrestles with this!

Forgiveness is hard, whatever side of the equation you’re on – extending forgiveness or receiving it.

In my case, even though I tell myself I’ve extended forgiveness, even had a tough conversation with that person, the hurt is still there. It surprises me that I’m having a hard time forgiving. Or maybe I have forgiven, but I haven’t forgotten. I don’t know.

When I had a good yet tough conversation with this family member, I truly tried to listen to his side of the story. I wanted to understand him. And while that conversation gave me more clarity, it didn’t take away the pain or the issue at hand.

This is something I’ve been thinking and praying about for a long time, and I try to find the answers in God’s word.

Colossians 3:13 (NIV) says: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Okay, great advice. But how do you do it?

In the book of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 14-15 (NIV), it says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The New Living Translation puts it even more succinctly, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ouch!

The book of Hebrews chapter 10 talks about Christ’s sacrifice. In verse 17, it says “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” This is similar to a verse in Jeremiah 31: 34, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (NIV)

So, the Lord basically says He’ll wipe the slate clean, yet I’m having a hard time following His example.

The burden of unforgiveness is a weight on my shoulders and getting harder and harder to carry. Or maybe I’m just having a hard time letting go of the hurt.

My heart has definitely softened toward this family member. And the few times we’ve seen each other since that tough conversation have been good. I love seeing him. But when I think back to the incident that has me not forgiving him, the hurt dredges up all over again.

So, tell me, Friends, are there any secrets to help me? How do you let go of the hurt, even after you’ve forgiven someone? Or you think you’ve forgiven them?

Let’s encourage one another!

Categories: forgiveness

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