Why Your Soul Is Refreshed When You Forgive
Gut punch. Heartache. Warm tears flowing down my cheeks and I can’t fathom how to make them stop.
Even breathing hurts. Taking my thoughts captive seems like an impossibility as I’m simply tormented with the moment my soul was wounded over...and over...and over. Playing like a broken record in my mind. The images flow like a movie, the emotions of that moment burn with the same intensity as when it happened.
I remember being told that sticks and stones could break my bones, but that words could never hurt me.
Those words are like many others that we say to our children to help them brush off the opinions, words, and actions of others. We think we are teaching them to be self-confident, when in reality, we are teaching them that how they feel in the moment isn’t valid. Words can hurt. Actions can hurt. Sometimes people can, and do, hurt us.
The truly remarkable, and painful, reality is that sometimes people hurt us... and they aren’t even sorry about it. Remorse could not be further from their minds. They move on with their lives without a second thought to the wreckage they have left behind.
I know what you’re thinking... who could be so callous as to not realize that they’ve hurt someone? Answer: Most of us at one point or another.
One of the biggest reasons we don’t realize when we’ve caused hurt is we are either going through or living out of our own hurt and we don’t realize the impact of our words and actions on others. You know the saying; hurt people hurt people... and sometimes they don’t notice. We become self-absorbed, tending to our own wounds as we plow through life unaware of who we injure or affect in the process. We can become so consumed in the pursuit of our own desires and agendas or the avoidance of our own pain that we look past our fellow travelers in life... and we slowly become ignorant to our impact on them.
And for the kicker... some people know they’ve hurt us...and they simply do not care. For whatever reason, sane or not, they have no concern for the wellbeing of others, emotionally or otherwise. Veiled behind labels like “Straight Shooter”, “Tough Love”, or “I Don’t Care What Anyone Thinks of Me”, they have become numb and dismissive to the souls of those that surround them.
And here we sit... in the rubble, in pain, confused, and at a loss as to how to ever forgive. We watch the one who hurt us move on, never looking back with care or concern for us or what just happened. It’s as if we can’t find our breath as we struggle to make sense of it all.
In those moments, we feel the gentle comfort and challenge of Holy Spirit. He covers our wounds with His healing hand...and we hear the whisper of His still small voice... “forgive them.”
How can I forgive when my heart still hurts so much? And an even better question, WHY do I HAVE to forgive when they aren’t even sorry?! Do you see them, Lord? Do you see how little they care? Why should I set them free from the consequences of what they’ve done? Get them, God... get them!
We. Want. To. Be. Angry.
We want them to feel our pain and hurt like we do...especially since they didn’t even have the humanity to ask forgiveness or apologize for what they’ve done!
In moments of pain, we fail to realize that our attempts to bind someone else to the hurt they have caused us only result in us shackling ourselves to the prison wall. Withholding forgiveness will not only prolong our healing, but it will assure that what was said or done will dwell in our thoughts and emotions until the point that it begins to manifest in our own behaviors. And before we know it, we are another one of those hurt people tromping along hurting other people.
We have to see past the myths surrounding forgiveness. Forgiveness is a choice that we make, not an emotion that we feel. While unforgiveness may wreak havoc in our thoughts and emotions, it isn’t changed by altering how we feel or “getting in a better mood.” To forgive another is to make the intentional choice to be free from what hurt you. It is choosing healing instead of bitterness, freedom in lieu of revenge... because we cannot live one more day in bondage to the choices of someone else.
Whether the offender is repentant or not, forgiveness isn’t something that is deserved and may not be something that is asked for. Newsflash: Forgiveness is needed because a wrong was committed, a hurt was wielded, pain was caused. Forgiving isn’t justification of their act, it’s the release of the consequences of that act...for them... and you.
Forgiveness is for YOU.
Choosing to forgive after being wounded may be one of the hardest choices we make. At first, it will seem unfair and as if it is taking every ounce of fortitude we can muster. Walking out that forgiveness daily will test our strength, our focus, and our commitment to walking in freedom. However, to quote one of my favorite philosophers, Winnie the Pooh, “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” The Holy Spirit has placed Himself inside of you with the commitment to never leave you and to supply you with everything you need. You need only ask.
Forgive. Not because they deserve it...not because they asked for it... but because it’s healthy for you. Not everyone will ask and not everyone will be sorry for the hurt they created. Forgive anyway... because your soul needs to be free.