How To Forgive: Steps To Freedom From Pain And Shame
Last week I wrote a post about forgiveness, and I would like to follow it up with a post on how to forgive. Learning to forgive can be quite difficult for some people. It can seem as though forgiving someone is excusing every bad thing they have done to you. However, that is not how the Lord sees forgiveness. Jesus came to set us free from oppression and death, and when we hold on to unforgiveness, we are holding on to the very things that strive to keep us in bondage.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Step 1: Admit you have a problem
For some, admitting that there is a problem is harder than forgiving the ones who hurt you. It is much easier to live in a place of strong denial, where you keep a firm belief that everything is just fine; nothing is wrong at all. You are not hurt or angry. You have moved on and nothing can keep you down.
This is exactly the stance the enemy would love you to keep, because it is in that denial that you are kept in his bondage. Forgiving those who have sinned against you is a cornerstone of Christian faith. To forgive is to be set free. We cannot be set free from anger, pain, spite, vengage, rage, etc, when we refuse to connect to those emotions. We tell ourselves they aren’t there, and when we flare up into a rage and someone calls us out on it, we smile warmly and say we’re not angry.
There is no hiding from unforgiveness. It is bondage that allows the demonic to work through us to keep us in pain and harm those that we love and that we have issues with. You may need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you see where you have unresolved issues causing pain, anger, etc.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Step 2: Repent for your anger
Once we verbally admit we are angry, hurt, jealous, spiteful, envious, hateful etc. , then we are ready for the next step, repentance. Repentance means to turn from evil and turn to good instead. Acts of hate, anger, and all the other feelings that come when we don’t forgive are the same as making agreements with the enemy. It is going against Christ in us, and agreeing with our sin nature, which was born out of rebellion and partnership with the enemy.
When Adam and Eve decided to rebel against God in the Garden, they were actually agreeing with the devil and his lies. Therefore, it was like a contract and partnership, which cost all humanity. We do not understand the depth of what sin means until we see it in these terms. To sin is not just to simply do wrong, and that is why it is so important to repent of it. God has already forgiven us, and we do not repent in order to gain His love or approval. We repent in order to align ourselves to the Spirit of the God Most High, and flee from the devil and his ways.
Have the Holy Spirit lead you through the act of repentance. Repentance should be done out loud, because you are making a declaration for the whole spiritual realm to hear. Repentance can be as basic as “I repent for my anger at ____. I repent for all my evil or negative thoughts about ______. I repent for all my jealousy and acts of division towards ____.”
Just be sure to let the Holy Spirit bring all of it to mind. Do not be ashamed at your actions as He reveals them. Your Father in heaven loves you more than you could know. He is not mad at you. He has already forgiven you. He knows your heart and knows you are not evil. You are repenting because you seek to free yourself from the bondage that has kept you in alignment with hell, not because you are bad.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Step 3: Forgive those that have hurt you
To forgive does not mean to permit sin. Forgiveness is the act of extending the blood Jesus shed on the cross to pardon us to those who have done us wrong. To forgive is an act, not a feeling. It is like a verbal contract between yourself and God, allowing His grace and mercy and love to flow freely to you and to those who have sinned against us.
The act of forgiving should be spoken aloud. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with the words. It can be as simple as “I forgive ______ for not being there when I needed them. I forgive _____ for not listening to me. I forgive ______ for stealing from me. I forgive ______ for saying hurtful things to me.
You may still have to work through some of the reasons for your pain, anger, etc. towards others after you forgive them. Often times things that happen to us now are a trigger (something that reminds us of a traumatic event from our past) to unresolved pain from our past. When we have traumatic events happen in our lives, which are wide and variable between different people, we store up the pain deep inside our psyche and keep reliving the wounds when they are triggered.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you work through any unresolved feelings that linger. You may find there are more things that need to be forgiven as time goes on. It is important to be patient and loving with yourself, forgiving yourself just as you are forgiving others. God does not expect you to be perfect, and knows you have done wrong in your life. We all fall short of the glory of God, and that is why Jesus came. We just need to keep surrendering and humbling ourselves continually, so that we can break free from this bondage and grow closer to God.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Step 4: Bless those who have hurt you
Once you have forgiven those who have hurt you, it is important to then bless them. People who hurt are most likely just hurting themselves. We are all broken and living in a broken world, trying to make it through the best we know how. Sometimes we do mean to hurt others and sometimes we don’t. Either way, we all deserve the forgiveness of Christ and the cleansing righteousness it brings.
To offer blessing on those who have sinned against us, no matter how severe it is, is the final act when we forgive. It releases us to move forward and know that we have truly aligned ourselves with the heart of God. His heart is so full of love for every one of His children, and He wants to see each one of us come into repentance so we can be who He truly created us to be. We must not fall prey to pride, thinking that to forgive is enough, and to bless is too much.
By blessing those who have hurt us, we are opening our hearts up to be blessed as well, and bringing the gates of heaven to these people who need Jesus so bad. No matter where they are in life, you can never have too much Jesus.
The act of blessing is as simple as “I bless _______. I bless their life, their home, their family, their finances.” And whatever else the Holy Spirit would have you pray. He may have you pray intercession for them, because they may be in dire straights, and we do not know.
For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We are not striving for perfection, but for the Father’s heart. As we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we can continue to grow in His mercy and love. We are to be ambassadors of His grace and mercy, and as we forgive, we are doing mighty work for His Kingdom. No matter how hard it seems, you can do this. I have had to forgive the most heinous of acts, on many occasions, and it has only brought me more and more freedom.
Your Father in heaven is so very proud of you and where you are at right now. Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my beautiful brothers and sisters!