Have you ever been in a tug of war? It can be exhausting as you pull with all your might so your team can win. I was in a tug of war with God when it came to forgiveness. I wanted to hang on to my anger, resentment and bitterness because it made me feel like I was in control. I felt like if I forgave, then I wouldn’t have anything else to hang on to. I knew that forgiving would set me free, but it would also set the other person free and I didn’t know if I was ready for that yet.
I prayed, “Father, please help me to forgive. You know how to deal with my offenders. I need to let you do your job. If I harbor resentment, anger and bitterness in my heart then I can’t move forward with you. I want to be free and enjoy my relationship with you. I am having a hard time letting go! Please help me to forgive!”
R.T. Kendall says, “A refusal to forgive means that God stands back and lets you cope with your problems in your own strength. Not many people want to live that kind of life-coping on their own without God’s help.” I knew I didn’t want to live my life on my own without God’s help. I knew I would be an idiot to even think I could live my life without God or without his help. Kendall also states, “Let the past be past at last. Forgive yourself as well as those who have damaged you. We cast our care on God and rely on Him to restore the wasted years and to cause everything to turn out for good.”
God was speaking truth to me. “Laurie, I am with you. I will take your childhood and restore the years you lost. I want you to count on me. I will not abandon you and I will deliver you through this difficult time in your life. I am with you every step of the way.” Oswald Chambers says, “You have no business trying to find out where God is leading. The only thing God will explain to you is himself.” That is exactly what God was doing in my life. He was showing me himself through his word and all the books I was reading.
I also found that there is a direct correlation between forgiveness and love. I knew that the love my father had shown me was not the kind of love that my heavenly father wanted me to experience. I honestly didn’t think I was lovable. God wanted me to look at myself as his child who was worthy of love. That was extremely hard for me to do. I needed to open myself up to the love that God was trying to show me.
Sandra Wilson says, “For I now experience the reality that my identity rests in the unshakable love of my Abba, to whom I eternally belong. Experiencing our Abba’s love irresistibly woos me into his presence so that he can tell me more of what I need to hear. God understands how extremely difficult it is for the fatherless to grasp the truth of his goodness and love. He isn’t angry about our struggles.” God wasn’t angry with me over my struggles. I was so used to my Dad being mad at me all the time and I felt like God was mad at me because I was struggling so much to forgive.
I prayed, “Give me the childlike trust and faith that I need Daddy. Woo me and help me feel your love for me.” I needed to change my warped image of God and approach him as a child who felt comfortable approaching a parent with a problem. I really didn’t feel comfortable as a child going to my Dad with a problem, so it took me a long time to get to the point that I felt comfortable telling God how I felt. Journaling helped a lot!
I just want to say forgiveness is hard and sometimes it feels like it is impossible. I have had to forgive every person who mistreated me. There have been many days when the memories come back to me and I have to go to God and ask for help again to forgive. I remind myself that if I don’t forgive, then I am hurting myself. Most of the people that have hurt me don’t care or refuse to admit they have done anything wrong and that makes it even harder, but I still have to forgive. Jesus says in Matthew 6:15 that if we don’t forgive the people that have sinned against us then God will not forgive our sins. So dear friends if we want God to forgive us, then we have to forgive others.
“Jesus did not teach his disciples how to preach but how to pray. To know how to speak to God is more vital than knowing how to speak to men.” Andrew Murray
I encourage you to speak to God and tell him how you feel and ask him to help you to forgive. Go to him as much as you need to for help and keep going until you are able to forgive. You will feel better when you are able to let it go and give it to God. Until next time fellow sojourners!