The kids and I were enjoying a rare cool summer morning as I watched the kids playing, I saw my oldest retaliate against his younger sister because of a hurt she had inflicted on him minutes before. Being the designated peacemaker, I called my son over to talk about his choices and that’s when I heard God speak to me through the words I was saying to my son.
As his mom, I spoke about how he retaliated because his sister had hurt him (intentionally or not) and he had yet to forgive her (regardless of whether or not she had apologized or asked for forgiveness). I spoke to him about how he was allowing his hurt to build a wall between himself and his sister. I asked him who it is that wants that wall there? Who is it that wants him to focus on his hurt feelings and demand an apology before forgiving her? God or the enemy?
It was during my own words to my son that I very clearly understood the same applied to me. As adults, our hurts may seem bigger or felt deeper than those of a child. But ultimately, a hurt is a hurt and ALL must be addressed. Each hurt inflicted or received becomes a choice. My heart once injured doesn’t want to forgive. My heart wants to demand a penance to be paid. My heart wants to demand justice. When you’ve been hurt, it’s easy to justify almost any response to the one who inflicted the pain. It’s easy to withhold forgiveness that hasn’t been ‘earned’ or asked for. But regardless of how justified we might be, God calls each of us to respond differently. He calls us to respond like Christ.
As Christians, we are called to do the hard work and respond beyond our feelings and to forgive even when we don’t’ want to, even when we still feel the sting of the hurt. Jesus directly addresses this with Peter in Matthew 18:21-22:
“21Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
Over and over in the Bible, God teaches us that LOVE bears all things and does not take into account a wrong suffered (1 Corinthians 13:5). While it isn’t always easy and often takes intentional time to work through, it IS so important to forgive and not allow the Enemy to build walls of unforgiveness that will separate you from others. The very words I spoke to my son, God was speaking to me.
I want to encourage you that if there is a hurt you’ve been carrying, lay it down and forgive the person. Do it over and over and over if necessary until you can easily ask God to bless them. Your forgiveness doesn’t excuse the action or ask that you forget what happened. Forgiveness isn’t requiring you to make future choices that will allow you to be hurt again. But it IS about letting go of the pain and the anger and giving it to God. It’s about realizing EVERY hurtful thing YOU have done (intentional or not) and realizing that you, too, desire others to forgive you. It’s realizing that God has forgiven US FAR MORE than anything we will ever be asked to forgive from others. Forgiveness is about refusing to allow the enemy to build another wall to separate you from others or God. It’s about remembering the hurt you feel enough to consistently be the one to ask for forgiveness and admit your mistakes the moment you are aware of them. It’s learning to ask for forgiveness from others the way you wish it would’ve been offered to you.