Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
A few days ago I got to serve at our Youth God Encounter. Many of our youth experienced God in such an amazing way. I literally watched some of them change over the course of a day. There were different topics covered throughout the day and I found that one of the most impactful was on Forgiveness.
Pastor Duane delivered such a powerful message, one that for sure changed the lives of these young people. At the end of his message, they were given the opportunity to renounce the unforgiveness that held them bound. Some had one person to release and others had a list. Each one was given the necessary time to release and received the freedom that God had for them. As the session came to a close, Pastor Duane took the stage one last time. He shared that he could not close the session just yet. There was someone who needed more time and that they needed to forgive someone who may no longer be living.
Growing up my dad was in the picture, but wasn't necessarily the father that I desired for him to be. There were a lot of broken promises and let downs. There were moments of disappointment, but usually I could push past the momentary sadness and hope for a better outcome for the next time. Fast forward years later. One day I received news that my dad died of a massive heart attack. I don't really remember having an emotional outburst when I received the call. But I do remember my mind being flooded with so many thoughts and questions. I went back to Georgia for his funeral and that's when reality hit me. As I watched them lower my dad into the ground, in that moment I felt the final pieces of my heart break in regards to him. It was in that moment that I realized that for every questions that ran through my mind, the answers to them were also being lowered into the ground.
I attended the youth God encounter to serve but ended up receiving healing for an area of my life that I thought I was good. I realized that I developed unforgiveness towards my dad for years lost that I can never get back. As he was closing, Pastor Duane gave instructions for us write a letter to the person. In the letter, we had to share how we felt, forgive, and then release the person. I had to forgive my dad for not being the father I long for him to be and for not being there to protect me. I had to forgive him for not teaching me how to ride my first bike and for never telling me that I was beautiful. I had to forgive him for not being there on prom night or for graduation. I had to forgive him for never calling me to say I love you.
Like mine, your story may warrant legitimate reasons as to why you feel the way you do concerning those who have initiated hurt or disappointment in your life, but I will be honest with you, its not excusable. Matthew 6:15 says, "But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Some may say, "If I forgive them, then I am just letting them get away with what they did to me!" Let me assure you, that is not the case. Forgiveness is not about excusing the offense. It's about looking beyond the offense and loving them with love Christ. They key is being able to let go of expectation of a desired outcome, then choose to forgive and love the person. Just be clear, in some cases, loving the person does not call for you to continue a personal relationship with that person. If you seek him for direction, God will give you wisdom and order your steps.
Like the old saying goes, "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." There are so many people dealing with all sorts of depression, sickness, anger, etc. and the root is unforgiveness. If we choose not to forgive, we forfeit the blessing of life, joy, peace and oneness with the Father.
Are you harboring unforgiveness in your heart for someone?
I challenge you to open you heart to God and ask him to reveal any area of unforgiveness. When He reveals those areas, use the letter method mentioned earlier in the post. If you want to go directly to the person, please only do so with the leading of the Holy Sprit. I know that letting go will not be the easiest thing to do, but I assure you, there is healing and freedom in forgiveness.
Father, Your word commands us to be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as you in Christ forgave us. So I ask that you reveal any area of unforgiveness in my heart. Forgive me of my sin. Help me to look beyond the offense, and to extend grace and love in a way that it reflects the love and grace expressed on the cross.
In Jesus Name, Amen