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HOW DO I FORGIVE?
Initially, one of hardest things for me to do was to pray for the man who abused my children. Every time I looked at them and saw the pain in their eyes my heart broke again and I wanted him to hurt, as my children were hurting. One thing that I knew deep inside, no matter how much I tried to resist it was, that I must pray for him. I just really felt that God was telling me this is what we all needed for us as a family.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”. Matthew 5:44.For a long time though, we found it incredibly difficult and had to almost pray for him through gritted teeth. At these times we prayed for more grace, so that we were able to give everything to God and allow Him to be in control. Eventually, as we kept praying, God just kept pouring more grace upon us; we all were able to pray for him more sincerely. At first our prayer for him was a very selfish one, we just wanted him to admit what he had done and plead guilty for the sake of all of us especially the kids. As time went on we started to pray for his relationship with God. We began to realise that if his relationship with God were right, things would certainly begin to turn around.
Unlike God, we do not have the capacity to forget once we have forgiven. God promises to forget our wrongs if we ask him for forgiveness. It’s kind of like this, if we get our arm caught in a piece of machinery we will develop a scar, but over time that scar will fade and not hurt anymore. The principle is the same with forgiveness. As we forgive we may still have the scars of the events, but eventually, they will not hurt anymore.
Here are a few tips on aiding forgiveness you may find helpful that has certainly helped us along the way.
- Pray for the perpetrator.
- Make a deliberate choice not to keep going over what has happened either in your head or to everybody that you come in contact with. Make a heart-felt resolution not to pass on your pain to everyone you come in contact with.
- Write down what is hurting you the most and pray about them, asking for release from the pain and the grace to move forward.
- Spend time thinking of ways in which your life would be more satisfying if you could let go of your hurts.
- Try replacing angry thoughts about the perpetrator with thoughts like; even though Jesus absolutely hates the sin that has been the cause of all the hurt, He died for that person as much as He died for me. As hard as it is to understand sometimes, Jesus actually loves them too. It’s just the sin He hates
- Become more aware that you have needed other people’s forgiveness in the past, and that sin is sin in Gods eyes. He does not differentiate between sins. If you tell a lie or if you murder somebody then it is as if you have broken all Gods commandments For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all James 2:10. This shows your need for Jesus just as much as the perpetrators’ need for Jesus. In Romans 3:23 it states... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Enjoy the sense of emotional relief that comes when the weight of all the stress and hurt have been lifted from you.
You may have to take control of your emotions with the above ideas on several occasions during any given day, for a long time. Forgiving is a life-long commitment and some days will be harder than others. Sometimes you may feel that you are completely over it just to find that the next day something will happen to bring all the hurts to mind again. But you can let go, and forgive, I promise you.