Forgiveness is easily misunderstood. We expect it from others but struggle with giving it. And let’s not forget the struggle with forgiving yourself! That can be the most difficult! The burden of shame seems much easier to carry than the thought of letting yourself heal. Why is forgiveness so hard? Why do we fight to hold on to so much hurt?
Forgiveness is hard because it cannot happen without letting something go. It is letting go of prideful feelings of entitlement and anger for another person and instead offering grace and mercy. I believe forgiveness is most difficult for women because we are made to nurture everything around us. If a woman enters conflict, she often feels disconnected. It feels like a betrayal, like a knife to the back.
Insecurity runs just as deep for men as they experience disconnection in the relationship as failure, weakness on their ability to lead, and inadequacy. It is no coincidence that when hurt happens in a marriage, the woman will put up a wall, the man will distance himself, and the cycle continues to spiral out of control! If you want an answer to finding intimacy, it begins with breaking down the barriers, owning your part in the disconnection, and asking for forgiveness. Right now I can hear hearts hitting the floor, so let’s talk about what forgiveness is, and what it is not.
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- IS about recognizing what you have done, knowingly or unknowingly, to cause hurt in someone else, then admitting that face to face with the other person.
- IS NOT putting a band-aid on the problem by only saying “I’m sorry.”
- IS receiving their forgiveness as an opportunity to change.
- IS NOT forgetting, we are not God and only God can choose to do that!
- IS taking back lost territory of the space in your mind you have given to that hurt
- IS NOT becoming, or continuing to be a victim. On one extreme, firm boundaries might be needed, on the other it might be vulnerability and opening your heart to trusting again. Finding the right balance for your situation, perhaps with the help of a professional, is important.
- IS taking responsibility of what that hurt is doing to you.
- IS NOT about waiting for justice or change in the other person’s life. Instead it’s praying over blessing instead of curse on their life.
- IS saying goodbye to hurt we hold, and giving grace because we know the mercy of God; at the least know what it feels to be released ourselves.
Need a place to start? I can’t tell you who should make the first move, but if you are the only one reading this, then it will have to be you. Setting the tone of your home, your words, and your heart to encourage life out of those you love will give them the security to create more intimacy that can change everything. Join me on the Lifegiver Podcast available on iTunes for more topics like these.