Bitter. Angry. Cold. Entitled. All words that infiltrate my thoughts when I think about some of the feelings we battle with when we harvest unforgiveness in our hearts. I wonder how a moment of hurt could pierce the heart so deeply that it causes a person to shut down, reject love, adopt an unfamiliar character–change who they are, loose peace, paint on artificial happiness, and the list goes on. How could one person, or an encountered experience have enough power to destroy the person God has called each of us to be? I say “us” because I refuse to single you out knowing that I existed in a place of unforgiveness for a long time. Believe it or not, I was comfortable with it! Comfortable in a sense of no matter how much resentment, anxiety, and hurt tortured me, I still refused to let this hardened feeling go all because I felt like I deserved to carry it out full term–forever. I felt entitled. My determination to hold people accountable for what they did to me was my way of saying, “you did me wrong and I didn’t expect it, so I’m now authorized to deal with you the way I see fit.” I didn’t expect it! That’s the part that tends to smack us in the face…we trust, they fail.
This feeling of entitlement that I mentioned has nothing to do with the natural expectation that the people we love or simply encounter are supposed to treat us with love, respect, loyalty, courtesy, goodness, kindness, etc.…as they should. But it has everything to do with our belief that if people don’t treat us the right way, we should in return hold them hostage to our despising and sometimes murderous thoughts and actions. We keep ourselves bound by the spirit of rejection, hurt, and even depression. Let’s not forget all of this starts with a decision to hold on to toxicity, simply because our unforgiveness feels justified– justified due to someone else’s lack of good character or inability to meet our expectations. In some cases we carry resentment because we are secretly disappointed in ourselves for our own inability or unwillingness to properly assess the people we allow in our lives…our inability to see people for who they are and who God would have revealed them to be if we would have consulted him first.
We often misread signals because we “feel” people are put in our lives for a reason. But this common phrase fails to mention that sometimes “the reason” is solely to destroy and delay us! Sometimes people are not sent by God but by the enemy himself. We forget that he too has a mission to knock us off every stepping stone God builds towards our purpose. We fail to guard our hearts with all diligence as the bible encourages us to do, we welcome people into positions they were never supposed to fill. What if the man you made the decision to be in a relationship with was only meant for you to give him a word to lead him to God? What if the girl you decided to be best friends with was only someone you were supposed to give an encouraging word to and that’s it? What if the man you went on a date with was only a counterfeit sent to block you from the promise God was on His way to deliver to you–– your real husband? What if the person who abused you was sent to kill you spiritually because you were called to do powerful works for God in the world? All these what-ifs serve as real life examples of how we can easily become a hostage to people who were misidentified or sent to distract us from discovering our true identity and divine purpose.
There are times when we have valid reasons to trust those we love, and then that trust is betrayed in the worst way. Or what about the times when strangers bring unexpected wrath into our paths? In those moments, we are required…commanded to cling onto God and his almighty power, his perfect love and his never-ending strength to forgive. His strength is made perfect in our weakness, he fights for us in his perfect timing and our enemies become his. God’s love is so full and perfect that he will heal us if we open our hearts and remain rooted and grounded in him. He’ll deliver our enemies right in front of us for them to either see they’ve been defeated, or cause them to glorify the God we serve simply because our forgiveness shed light on their darkness. Holding on to the pain caused by another person keeps us locked in a time capsule unable to grow, love in fullness or move on. We literally become stuck in a time zone…unable to tap into who God has called us to be and the blessings he has assigned to us. Making the decision to forgive is about us and our relationship with God, not about focusing on who caused it. It’s about living in our rightful freedom and not allowing anyone to steal our peace and joy. It’s about forgiving others as God forgives our faulty messes. Forgiveness never dismisses the truth that has been revealed about the person who hurt us or replenishes a relationship, but it does give us permission to be let loose from their control and reconciled with the one who is faithful at winning our battles for us––God. It gives us permission to let go of hurt and grab desperately onto God’s love. If there is any love left in you, which I believe there is, I admonish you to pull from that place where the Spirit of God lives, forgive, and be FREE!