Forgiveness is essential in the life of a Christian. As Christians, we know that Jesus emphasized forgiveness and went ahead to say that we should forgive 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:21-22). I believe he did this to explain the boundlessness of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a one-time thing, we should actively seek to forgive individuals, and we should not place a limit on the times we have to forgive. Forgiveness is very powerful as it is like letting someone out of the prison of your heart. It is freeing because you release them and in turn, you release that bitterness.
I learned the importance of forgiveness in 2012 as I had let unforgiveness take over my heart and soul. It had consumed me as I always thought of how I was crossed. I had vowed never to forgive some individuals who had wronged me, and I felt justified that I did not forgive them. I believe at this time bitterness had overtaken my soul and I had no room to move forward into my destiny. One preacher came over to me and out of the blue told me that I need to forgive. I remember sarcastically telling her that if I forgive, my work here on earth will be complete and God will take me up in a chariot of fire. She was shocked at how much hurt and bitterness I let creep into my heart. After that message from the pastor, God pursued me with every single song, TV program, movie that week since everything was about forgiveness. I knew that God was trying to get me to listen. I remained stubborn and did not budge.
That same week, I had a dream where I was receiving a gift from Jesus, and I was so excited. Then all of a sudden I heard a voice (it was Satan), “BUT she hasn’t forgiven them.” The dream ended. I realized that Satan is an accuser of the brethren as he seeks to discredit us before God. I also realized that unforgiveness could block me from my destiny and hinder progression in my life. This dream was so surreal, and I cried that night and vowed to forgive as I realized that Satan prowls the earth and he seeks to hinder people from living a life of obedience. In my situation, he used unforgiveness to trap me and stagnate my life. That morning I called and forgave and released the people who had wronged me. I also told them that if they felt that I wronged them in any way, I ask for their forgiveness as well. The mistake I made after this is I prematurely sought reconciliation.
Forgiveness only requires one person and reconciliation requires two parties who are on the same page. When I sought reconciliation without the other party, I exposed myself to more hurt because there was broken trust in the friendship. At times, the friendship or relationship is severed at the root depending on what happened. At this point, there is no natural fit or reason to continue such a relationship.
God has to be actively involved in the process of reconciliation. We have to ask God whether we need: full, partial or no reconciliation. God may tell you to first pray for the other party and work towards partial reconciliation. At other times he may ask you to walk away. The best example I can think of is that of a person who has recovered from drug addiction, and God tells the individual to cut ties with old friends so that they don’t influence them into relapse. Another example is that of Joyce Meyer who spoke of her traumatic history of rape and molestation from her father. She said that she forgave him and at first there was partial reconciliation and God later led her to full reconciliation 40 years later and she led her father to accept Jesus. Bottom line- Reconciliation looks very different for everyone.
After forgiveness, we have to be careful to not walk in offense. Offense often begins as a result of legitimate hurt or mistreatment. However, the wounds of past hurt can creep up and cause havoc in our lives. Walking in offense can produce the same damage as unforgiveness as it can prevent us from stepping into our destiny. That hurt that was experienced years ago can be a hindrance to your future. I realized that after prematurely reconciling with individuals who were not ready, I opened a door for offense to take over and this is when I decided that no reconciliation would be best for those friendships.
I have to continually pray and evaluate myself to ensure that I am neither working in unforgiveness nor offense. If I realize there is an issue, I always ask the help of the Holy Spirit to guide me and help me navigate through every hurt and situation.
Made of Still