As this year begins to come to a close, I’m focusing on forgiveness, my word of the year. I try to pick a new word each year to focus on, to give me strength, to remind myself of God’s unfailing love, and the love others have for me.
This year and the year before were filled with a lot of hurt. Not just for me and my family, but for the people I love. There were storms of hate and pain coming at everyone from every direction it seemed. Often, I got focused on that pain instead of rising above it. I think we all do sometimes. It’s easy to let betrayal, hurt, and anger conquer our hearts.
While jamming out to Christmas music in my car, “Wonderful Christmas Time/Come On It’s Christmas” by Hanson came on. One of the lyrics goes, “come on it’s Christmas, we bring it with us; peace and love, forgiveness, wonderful Christmas time”. I got wrapped up in those words and it brought me back to what I’d been trying to focus on all year. Forgiveness.
I think we get so carried away by the lights and music and magic of Christmas, that we often forget what the real meaning of it all is. Jesus was sent to earth to eventuallly conquer death and become the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. For forgiveness.
It’s super hard to forgive. It’s not something I’ve mastered and I probably never will. I can be pretty salty and sometimes I just don’t want to forgive people for what they’ve done to me and my family. Like salt can cause corrosion of metals, it can cause corrosion of our hearts.
More often than not, people that hurt us won’t ask for forgiveness or say they’re sorry, but that pain can eat away at us. We need to learn to forgive even if an acknowledement of wrong hasn’t happened. Forgiveness isn’t for the person that wronged us, it’s for us. To heal us and bring peace. I heard from a wise woman that, “recovery from resentment doesn’t begin with another’s repentance, but with our own acceptence of God’s forgiveness.”
This year I, personally, have focused on forgiving certain people for wronging my family in ways most people would think are unforgiveable. Some days I feel like I’ve forgiven everything and some days hate boils under my skin. Forgiveness doesn’t happen one time and everything is all good. It’s a process. It takes time. Some days will be easy to forgive and some days it won’t be, that doesn’t mean that progress isn’t being made. Forgiveness is a godly trait, a righteous trait, and therefore, we need God to help us. I don’t know of anyone that’s been able to forgive without God’s help.
Forgiving may not seem very important but the effects of unforgiveness, or resentment, are endless. Not only does it cause emotional unrest, it can cause physical problems, like anxiety and high blood pressure. Resentment is a contagious pandemic and we can easily infect other people around us. Negativity and hate reign when there is resentment in our hearts.
What do you need to forgive, what pain have you been hoarding? Do you need to forgive yourself? When you feel unworthy that seeps into all aspects of your life. If God has forgiven you, and He has, you have the ability to forgive yourself. Do you need to forgive God? Is life just not the way you thought it’d be and your anger is aimed at God? There’s sin in the world and therefore there’s pain and that sucks, but God doesn’t want you wallowing in pain. He has plans for your life and a peace that can’t be explained. Did someone hurt you? Is there a situation that hasn’t been resolved and it keeps reopening wounds? Let God take that baggage.
Chances are there will be a scar even after forgiveness has taken place. And there’s nothing wrong with scars. Let those scars be a testament to the pain you’ve overcome or a lesson to yourself and others. Maybe for the rest of the year we can all focus on forgiving what we haven’t and next year we can focus on the peace that comes with forgiveness.