Forgiveness allows the pain in your past to propel you toward the purpose in your future—but only a true understanding of forgiveness can do that. Let’s talk about one of the most misunderstood principals in the Christian world.
I will never glibly tell a betrayed, angry person, “You need to forgive” or “The joy of the Lord is your strength”, or any other Christian quote people like to throw out when they’re uncomfortable with humanity’s mess. I will not say that until I’ve sat with her or him through the hurt of it all.
Jesus was angry.
Jesus said it how it was.
Jesus didn’t pretend nothing was wrong when everything was wrong.
Jesus didn’t pretend he wasn’t hurt; He actually experienced hurt on a human level so we could see Him in our own, and take courage.
Get this—the Son of God felt pain. And, He experienced anger so strong that He overturned tables in the temple when He could have just nicely asked religious people to leave.
The pain you feel is a good thing, in that it lets you know something is wrong.
The anger you feel is a good thing, in that it aligns you to the heart of God who is also angry with what has been done to you.
When you feel pain, grief, or anger, don’t run from it. Embrace it, reckon with it, and process it carefully because when you talk to God about your negative emotions, He walks you through them and teaches you a lot in the process.
Reckoning carefully with negative emotions brings us closer to the positive. Many people do the opposite. They shut down and deny negative emotions out of fear and discomfort—but I’m here to assure you that dealing with it all is the only way to clarity.
Seeing my (then) husband ride around town in a big red truck with his sixteen year old girlfriend brought me pain that almost made me numb. Why? Because it was wrong and my heart was letting me know that when it tightened in protest with my emotions.
Many of us run from pain rather than stand before it, asking why it’s there at the moment.
We shove it aside, as if that will make it go away rather than fester and grow.
We try to deny it, as if reality changes with our reckoning of it, or not.
Humanity was created for unity with God, which is all things love, joy, and peace. We are created to react negatively to wrong because we’re created in the image of God with a high propensity for things that line up to the character of God.
We enter the world, eager to experience the best in life, love, and liberty. But a fallen world means there is evil all around us, people with freedom of choice, and sin greater than we can handle in our own strength.
The aftermath of sin can be staggering, life-altering, and painful enough to make one need years to move on.
I don’t believe in clique christian quotes, glibly pouring from mouths who have no idea what it’s like to walk hell on earth. I don’t believe God does everything. I don’t believe in the age old saying of “God will never give you more than you can handle.”
I believe in reckoning with every form of human emotion, head on.
I believe some things are so evil that God most certainly did not do it, cause it, or want it. But because He’s good, He will work in spite of it, through it, and absolutely overcome it.
And, I believe that life does give us more than we can handle. This is when God pulls us toward His strength and we get to experience supernatural grace. A very real depiction of the fact that life is too much for us sometimes, is watching people end up in mental institutions with no where to go but a deteriorating brain because the trauma is too much for them to handle.
Or, watching others grasp hold of divine Grace where God always over-rides trauma and shows us that love wins. We just need to get close to the heart of God and access divine love.
Because God is good, I believe in forgiveness.
Because He heals my heart, I believe in love.
Because He is all Grace, I believe I can get through anything.
In Christ, we are unstoppable.
My (then) husband’s on-going affair with a girl twenty-two years younger than me led me through things I never imagined I’d go through. But it also led me toward other things.
Having everything taken from me allows me to learn that I’m entrepreneural at heart, that I can do business and investments, learn, grow, and ask advice from those more knowledgeable than I.
Having my husband leave opens my eyes to the idol marriage was for me, and sets me free to experience life, love, and grace in spite of the loss.
Forgiveness is a personal choice that sets me free to see beautiful again.
Forgiveness allows something that would have wrecked me to turn into my greatest growth, instead.
True forgiveness doesn’t hide sin, but exposes it and deals with it. Only then can you properly release it.
When you hide or deny what’s been done to you, you keep and hold the event in your heart as something permanent. Bringing it to light allows you to hand it over to the Giver of Light where nothing is hidden and all things will be manifest one day. This process is imperative to keep you on track with your purpose.
Seeing the goodness of God allows me to let go of the depravity of man.
I can forgive my husband. I can forgive the girl I used to mother, right along with my own children. I can forgive them.
I can know there’s a baby coming, and I can withhold bitterness toward the child who will rival my own children’s attention from their father.
Seeing the goodness of God changes everything.
Because I trust God, I can give the situation into God’s hands, knowing that God knows all, sees all, and has wisdom for all circumstances. Giving my ex-husband and his girlfriend into God’s hands allows me to walk away internally and not have to look back for anything.
I don’t have to get revenge. Walking around with a chip on my shoulder is unbecoming to a daughter of the King who knows she is loved and cared for. It is what it is—but God is also who He says He is—and He doesn’t take it lightly when His sons or daughters are trampled on.
I’m in good hands when I’m in the hands of God.
And when I ask myself for the hundredth time, “What does forgiveness look like?”, I can know that Jesus knows what forgiveness looks and feels like when I don’t know.
I still feel angry sometimes.
I still cry sometimes.
But all of it leads me toward grace. Enter your grief and engage your anger for a season, but allow both to pull you toward God where He engages both in a mighty win over death, hell, and everything in between.
Forgiveness allows my pain to propel me toward my purpose. On the other hand, denial would push me into numbness where I would feel no anger, no grief, and—hear this carefully—I would also feel no passion, no pleasure, and no purpose.
Trying to stay righteous by denying anger is the death to true life. You were meant to feel angry over some things. You just can’t allow anger to push you to bitterness. Jesus never asked you to feel no anger; He did ask you not to sin when you’re angry. (Ephesians 4:26)
True holiness never renders a person numb and silent; it always pulls a person toward life and purpose.
As Lysa Tuerkurst so beautifully says, “I choose to forgive; and for whatever my feelings will not allow, the blood of Jesus will cover.” (Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by LT).
Engage your grief and allow it to pull you into GRACE.
Every day, say it aloud, “I choose to forgive.”