Over the years I have had many conversations with close friends as well as casual acquaintances that have been carrying around a lot of bottled up anger for many years. The offenses mentioned are many and they are varied and nearly each instance the person telling the story ends it with these words…”I will NEVER forgive them.” My heart sinks each time I hear a new story because I use to be just like them, someone who was unwilling to forgive.
I am forced to remember some of my own difficult years as I recall my adamant refusal to forgive past offenders in my life. I remembered the hatred I felt, the need for revenge, the need for them to feel my anger, my hurt and my disappointment. I lived in this self-inflicted misery for too many years. Years literally spent in rebellion, vanity and stubborn pride.
I refer to it as self-inflicted because I understand now that I am the only one who can choose my attitude each and every day. There is no denying I was abused and suffered at the hands of offenders in my early years, there is no denying that I was victimized. After much counseling, much teaching and learning what God wants from me and after years of chipping away the wall of hatred I had wrapped myself in, I learned my attitude was completely wrong and then I learned about repentance and I learned to forgive.
Forgiveness gave me a reason to live again; it freed me from the weight that had literally burdened me day after day, year after year, a burden that caused health problems and mental anguish. One person who I forgave had already died and I was never able to tell them face to face that I forgave them. My heart still aches that I didn’t get to let them know before they died but I still have peace knowing I did the right thing and truly forgave them.
Often times our hatred and unwillingness to forgive doesn’t even bother the other person and they may not even be aware of why relationships have been severed, yet it is carried around like a ball and chain by the person who was hurt, digging into their very soul and scarring it daily.
Many have said these words before and I say them again today. Life is too short to carry around anger and hatred. If you are carrying around the burden of un-forgiveness I pray you will search your heart and find a way to let it go. It will change your life for the better.
“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. Matt 6:14-15