3 Things I Do When I’m Struggling to Forgive

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Here’s 3 Things I Do When I’m Struggling to Forgive

I know the extraordinary power of forgiveness, but I still struggle with it. My default setting is to focus on the ways I’ve been wronged, nurse my anger, and bear grudges. Not only for huge offenses like forgiving the doctor whose mistake cost my son his life or my husband who left me for someone else, but also for the minor, everyday offenses that I can roll over endlessly in my mind.

I realize that unforgiveness hurts me more than anyone else, but in the moment, I’d often rather hold onto bitterness. It’s easier, more natural and more tempting to rehearse the wrongs that have been done to me. In my memoir, I tell about my journey with forgiveness, both the struggles and blessings, and how despite my initial resistance, forgiveness has been one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done – which is why I wanted a song about forgiveness included on The Bravest Thing EP.  

When I find myself entwined in bitterness, when I keep replaying the hurtful things someone has said or done, when I can’t rejoice in their success and secretly hope for their failure, I know I need to forgive, both for my own good and because God calls me to. Here are three practical things I do when I’m struggling to forgive:

Ask God to help me.  

I need God’s help to even want to forgive. At first, I make excuses about why I shouldn’t, can’t or don’t need to let go of the offense. So I begin by admitting to God that I don’t want to forgive, and I ask him to make me willing. I keep asking God to soften my heart which has often become hardened to the person who has hurt me.

I do this for many reasons, the first being that God commands us to forgive. It is not optional. We see throughout the New Testament God’s mandate that we forgive “as the Lord has forgiven you” (Colossians 3:13). And like all of God’s commands, it is for our good. The Lord knows how unforgiveness poisons us. Forgiving those who have wronged me has released the stranglehold of bitterness, which has not only affected me but everyone around me (Hebrews 12:15). God, who has forgiven my enormous debt, gives me the power to forgive others.

Acknowledge and name how I’ve been hurt.  

For me to fully forgive, I must understand what I am forgiving. I usually list all that has happened and all the negative repercussions from the person’s actions and words. What I’ve lost. Why it wounded me. How it continues to impact me. I include everything I can think of because I want to know what I’m letting go of before I move forward.

While forgiveness begins with the decision, it is an ongoing process as well. Memories resurface, unintended consequences occur, unhealed wounds reopen, and we must continue to ask God for help letting go. Rather than remembering and rehearsing how the person has hurt us, the Lord invites us to release the pain and refocus our minds on whatever is pure and lovely and worthy of praise (Phil 4:8).  

Adjust my focus.

After I acknowledge what has hurt me, I ask the Lord to help me see the person with compassion. I often realize that their actions sprang out of their own woundedness, and while that does not diminish, justify, or excuse what they did, it does soften my attitude towards them.

I also ask the Lord to show me what he is doing in me through this process of forgiving. I know that he has brought this situation into my life for a reason. Through forgiveness, I’ve experienced unexpected healing, freedom to move on, and a deeper walk with the Lord. His power has been released in my life in an unprecedented way, which is the miracle of Christian forgiveness: when we forgive, Christ does something profound in us and for us. Those wounds inflicted by others firmly graft us into Christ, the vine, and his life flows more powerfully through us.

If bitterness has a hold on you, I encourage you to ask God to help you forgive your offender. You won’t regret it.

This is my last post in the series about the music on The Bravest Thing EP, which was developed in conjunction with my memoir, Walking Through Fire. It was released under the name More Than Rubies and features Ellie Holcomb, Taylor Leonhardt, Jess Ray, Christa Wells and Nicole Witt. Jess Ray lends her beautiful voice to this haunting song that reminds us why we should choose forgiveness. The song and the album are available wherever music is streamed.

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/3-things-i-do-when-im-struggling-to-forgive

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