Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

I can sit here today and issue a generic statement about how all of us occasionally feel betrayed by people to whom we have shown kindness. Yes, we all eventually are slapped in the face by people we’ve trusted. But today it’s personal, and the past few days have been a struggle for me.

I have felt violated and confused, and my initial response was rage. How could the kindness we’ve shown be reciprocated in such a way? How could my parameters of acceptable conduct be so vastly different from that of others who profess to share my worldview? How could people be so insensitive and inconsiderate? Worse yet, how could people not find the courage to apologize for the grief they have caused?

I may not find the specific answers to those questions, but Scripture shows me what my response should be.

Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. – Luke 6:28

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. – 1 Peter 3:9

So I am compelled to pray for those who have hurt me and the people I love. Part of me asks, “How, Lord?” But I am reminded that I am a sinner in desperate need of God’s grace. Like them, I have been foolish and inconsiderate and rude and easily led astray.

And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:32

Am I hurt? Yes. And each reminder of my hurt must compel me to forgive. Forgiveness is a process, one we must continually nurture and not impede. We do this for the sake of our sanity and for the sake of our souls.

Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions. – Mark 11:25-26

Forgiveness also helps take our eyes off ourselves and fix them on the One who truly has been offended. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight. – Psalm 51:4

Forgiveness frees. It frees us from bitterness and selfishness. It frees us to experience peace, to love and to pray. (By this I do not mean to pray for a meteor to fall from the sky on those who have hurt you – not that I would ever pray that way.) I choose to walk in the freedom of forgiveness instead of remaining in bondage to betrayal. I am released. And so are those who have betrayed me.

4 thoughts on “Finding Freedom in Forgiveness

  1. Cheri Henderson says:

    Been there, done that, Dennis! That was the hardest one of all. But to deny yourself (or anyone else) forgiveness is to deny God’s grace. It is an affront to God.

  2. Ann Marie (McLaughlin) Minerovic says:

    My dear Cheri,
    I had a situation in the past year where I had to forgive and forget.
    I shared driving with the mom of my daughter’s classmate. We became friends and even volunteered at the school together. We were always there for each other and enjoyed each other’s company. I liked her and trusted her. I began to notice her never ending stories of people she hated and that have wronged her. They all personally attacked her and had a vendetta against her and her family. I listened and felt it wasn’t my business since I wasn’t there.
    Then one day, we were supposed to pick up her daughter to go over to another friend’s house. My daughter and I were both having an off day. The result of that was that my daughter forgot to tell me to pick up her friend until we were almost to the destination. My daughter called, apologized and asked if the mom would drive her daughter. The mom didn’t have far to go. One end of the suburb to another. Where I would have said ok no big deal, that mother didn’t take it well. I stopped by her house on the way back, but her mindset was that it was done as a personal attack. Suddenly, I was in the category with all the rest. I even cried. I would never intentionally hurt anyone. I was hurt. After that she unfriended me. We no longer talk or share rides.
    My mom said you can’t reason with someone who is unreasonable. She told me to pray for her.
    It reminds me of this passage. Only as it applies to my situation I had to forgive and forget and shake the dust of the friendship off my feet.

    Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.
    Matthew 10:14

  3. Cheri Henderson says:

    I’m sorry for the rejection you suffered, Ann Marie. Yes, pray for her. I have certain people in my life who have caused me much pain, and I try to pain for them every time I am reminded of the hurt they have inflicted upon me. Someone once told me it’s hard not to love someone for whom you pray, and I think that’s true. Blessings to you, my dear!