A Healed Heart
Have you ever experienced a hurt so bad, that even the thought of it casts a dark cloud over your day? We have all experience hurt in one way or another. What matters though, is how you deal with it. I know for me, I want to hold onto it, because letting go of it, feels like letting them off the hook. So I held onto my hurt, instead of forgiving them because I didn’t want the person who hurt me to think they won. Ironically, by me holding onto it, they had won. I had it all wrong, yet I didn’t realize it at the time. Unforgiveness is toxic, because it can spread into other areas in our lives. Our unforgiveness leaves us bitter, and angry, it can hold us captive.
I have been blessed to grow up in a Christian home with amazing parents. I know that this is not the reality of most people, so I consider myself extremely blessed. Though, I did experience a deep hurt that I had held onto for many years. My dad and I are very similar in certain ways, so growing up we would get into arguments a lot. He would say things to me, that really cut deep. I would convince myself that it didn’t hurt, and that I didn’t have a reason to cry. By holding back my emotions and pain it caused me to become very angry and bitter. My anger began to spew out into different areas of my life. I wasn’t dealing with the pain, instead I was denying it’s existence. Every argument ended with two very hurt people, and a bunch of words we’d regret later. The pain continued to grow, and my heart became harder. I would hold onto the harsh words that he had said to me. This caused my unforgiveness to grow bigger and bigger. He would apologize, but I wouldn’t accept it. I wanted to hold onto my hurt because it was all I had. My only plan for ridding myself of the pain, was to move away. God knew my hurt was so deeply rooted, that moving away wouldn’t do anything at all. The problem would still be there when I returned and my heart would still be hardened by bitterness. The heart would only start to heal, once I chose forgiveness over revenge.
I attend a young adults group at my church, and every January we go to the mountains for what we call “Winter Weekend.” We go to the mountains for a few days and just spend time with God. Before I went up, I told God that I would forgive my dad, if one of the messages dealt with unforgiveness. God already knew my heart, and what I needed to hear. Sure enough, at one of the sessions throughout the day, my Pastor’s wife spoke on unforgiveness. She asked each of us to take out a piece of paper and write a letter to the person that had deeply hurt us. I remember taking out a paper and writing the note addressed to my dad. I began to cry, hysterically. She said to close the note, telling the person that we forgive them. I couldn’t even write it. I finished the letter with “I _______ you”. I wasn’t ready to let it go yet. As I sat in my seat crying out to God, he comforted me. He told me that forgiving my dad would not only heal our relationship, but it would heal the bitterness that I had held onto for years.
I know you have been hurt. Maybe the person who hurt you doesn’t even know the extent at which they hurt you, or maybe they do and they don’t even care. I know that it hurts, and holding onto it somehow makes you feel like you have control. But can I tell you that releasing it to God, and allowing yourself to forgive is so much more freeing than holding onto it will ever be. When I went back to my cabin that night, I wrote forgive, in the blank I had left in my letter. My heart wasn’t completely healed right away, but in that moment I received a peace I had never experienced before. It takes courage to believe the one who has hurt you. I am going to challenge you to write a letter addressed to the one who has hurt you. When you feel ready, write that you have forgiven them. Through your courage, God will bring you the peace your heart desires. Forgiving is not easy, and I don’t want to make it out to be. When you forgive, it allows your heart to be healed and allows you to live free from bitterness.
God has commanded us to forgive, that doesn’t mean that it is easy, but it is necessary.
“Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22 NLT)
After all, we must never forget what God has forgiven us from. When we deserved death for our sins, Jesus came to earth and died to set us free. God doesn’t ask us to forgive because he wants to see us suffer, he asks us to forgive because he knows what will become of our hearts if we don’t. He knows the significance of forgiveness.
“Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9 NLT)
“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12 NLT)
Let us not be held captive by our unforgiveness. Let God give you the courage to release those hurts to him and forgive the person who has caused you deep pain. The devil wants us to hold onto the pain, because he knows it will harden our hearts and cause us to live in bitterness. However, the only person we end up hurting is ourselves. Can we be bold enough to no longer live in fear of being hurt? Let us be strong enough to forgive, and let the forgiveness change our hearts. God wants to heal your hurt. He wants to remove the fears you have in the letting go. Give them over to him today, and walk in the freedom of forgiveness.