Myth 1 & 2 – Forgive and Feel Better?

Forgiveness Never Ends

Today we’re addressing two myths –

  1. If I forgive, I will immediately and automatically feel better.
  2. If I forgive, I won’t feel hurt or angry again, no matter how many times my offender reoffends.

One of the biggest motivators for me to forgive is the promise of feeling better.

So let me clear – I’m not saying that forgiving an offender won’t bring a peace from God and positive emotions in our hearts. It can and often does!

It’s just that sometimes we look at forgiveness as a sprint and expect to “win a prize” at the end of the race.

Do you remember the way the fictional character, Forest Gump “just ran” from Greenbow, Alabama to the west coast, and then he doubled back, running to the east coast and on and on? Ultimately, he was supposed to have run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours!

Forgiveness is like that … only longer!

It’s a never-ending journey in this life that is filled with hills and valleys—both of which God wants to use to deepen our faith in Him!

When we choose to forgive, God’s grace pours into us—giving us a new perspective in that moment. And often there truly is a “moment” of feeling peace here.

  • But sometimes “that moment” is shocked back to reality when we’re reinjured by our offender.
  • And sometimes it’s because we’re faced with the lingering consequences that don’t go away simply because we forgave.
  • Worse yet, there are times when a wound is so deep and an offense so heinous that making the choice to forgive doesn’t immediately bring that flood of peace and good emotion at all.

That’s when we’re “forgiving in faith” and “not living in feeling!”

Much of the forgiving I’ve done in life has been rooted and maintained in “forgiving by faith” {faith in God, not my offender} because …

My offender often reoffends and reinjures, but my God is faithful!

When we reach for God to heal that wound that’s been battered and sometimes broken open, He is faithful to comfort and bind up that wound. But He doesn’t always heal the wound completely. And He also doesn’t necessarily remove that offender, the consequences, or the continual offenses.

Instead, He leverages those yearnings, those pangs of pain and the unhealed wounds that remain, as a way to drive us deeper into His love.

We cannot truly know Christ’s sacrificial love and forgiveness without experiencing and trusting Him in these dark, painful valleys that He, Himself, walked.

So if you second guess yourself or wonder if you really didn’t forgive your offender because you still “feel” angry or still hurt when reoffended, then double back and head for the next coastline of God’s grace. I promise, He’s waiting for you with an ocean of His deep love and peace for you to swim in!

 

What feelings or fears do you still struggle with regarding a certain offender in your life?

 

What has God taught you on the long and winding journey of forgiveness that keeps you “running” toward Him today?

 

Photo by – “Mile Marker 13″ by Al King, edited by Beth Steffaniak

This is #9 in Forgiveness Series. Click link to access #8 – 7 Biggest Myths of Forgiveness

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Joining with  Works for Me Wednesday, To Love Honor and Vacuum, Whimsical Wednesday and Wholehearted Wednesday

 

Now it’s time  for Wedded Wednesday!

 

WW rules:

Write in any way you feel inspired about marriage, parenthood or anything that is spiritually encouraging.

  1. Enter in a permalink directly to your “blog post” and not the main URL to your blog.
  2. Be sure to include a link to “Wedded Wednesday” or add the WW button (code is in MM’s footer) to your current blog post and/or sidebar.
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Optional but encouraged:

  1. Consider setting up your Gravatar profile and Disqus Profile with a link to your blog … it makes it so much easier for all of us to find those of you who blog!
  2. If you have the time, visit those who visit your blog and comment at their place as well … sort of a “Say it forward.”

Come join our Wednesday Link-up!

  • Our pastor told us once that forgiveness is a daily decision. We wake up every day and choose to give our hurt up to the Lord. How many times must I forgive my brother? Seventy seven times… in other words, time and again and again and again. That made me feel better about the struggle to shed the hurt even after I’d forgiven. Wise words once again, my friend. Thank you for your ministry to us here!

    • Yes, forgiveness is both a decision and an emotional/spiritual process, Becky. Both are necessary. Both are true. And yes, I thought of that passage with Peter and Jesus as well when writing this. It really comes down to an attitude of surrender–surrendering our broken hearts, our shattered dreams, our scarred image to the Great Redeemer and Forgiver moment by moment, day by day. Thanks for sharing your smile here in this place!

  • Nicki Schroder ツ

    Well said Beth! Forgiveness is such a process. God was able to heal some very deep wounds from my past, but it wasn’t until I fully let God drive the process of healing that I was able to be free. I pray that your beautifully written words will bring hope and healing to someone in need!

    • Thanks so much, Nicki. I pray that too. Honestly, I’m a little surprised by the response over this post. But when that happens, it always reminds me that it’s God’s message and not from my personal wisdom. Thanks for encouraging me and for joining the link up! Hugs!

  • Forgiveness is a long process. It took me 7 years to forgive my dad. 7 years of not speaking to him, and holding onto anger & bitterness. Then I decided I didn’t want to live like it anymore. Around this time, my dad contacted my little sister, and she asked me to speak to him on her behalf. I did, and forgave him, and the release after 7 years was huge. Now my dad and I are rebuilding a wonderful relationship, and I know it’s all because our great God was at work the whole time in his heart and mine.

    • That’s wonderful, Hannah. It sounds as if you were able to gain, not just forgiveness with your dad, but reconciliation. That’s something I can’t wait to address in a post to come. 🙂 And yes, a big “amen” to the truth that God is at work the whole time. We just have to trust Him in that, especially when our feelings or circumstances don’t seem to match up. Thanks for linking up and tweeting too! Hugs to you!

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  • alina y

    I am new to your blog but I already love it. Thank you for the wise words today. Forgiving comes very hard for me, I actually have to sit down and decide to forgive 😉 my husband on the other hand seems to forgives me very quickly. We are a young family married for almost 6 years. Will be checking back for more wisdom for my marriage:)

    • I’m so glad, Alina! Great to have you for the first time! And you bring up another facet of forgiveness. Some take the offenses to heart much more deeply than others. That’s due to a variety of factors, but it can feel very frustrating or discouraging when you compare yourself to others, like your husband, who deal with the pain more quickly or more easily. Hang in there, sweet friend! And keep on coming back! I appreciate your encouragement!

  • Nan

    I know, and have heard others say, that you come to a place where you realize that forgiveness isn’t saying something is o.k. It’s letting go of your “right” to be angry and letting go of the bitterness, instead of letting it choke you. It’s freeing yourself to let go of the pain and move on. It’s allowing the Lord to heal you.

    Sometimes you start to heal and the same people make it bleed again. And then back to the Lord you go! 😉 I love how you liken God’s grace to a coastline! Yes, He has an ocean of it! Thanks for hosting today.

    • Oh, yes! I’m actually going to write on that after this “myth” part of the series is done. There are things we are hesitant to do when we think of forgiving and that’s one of them, Nan! Thanks for being so insightful and adding to the discussion and I’ll meet you in that “deep blue of God’s grace” and we can splash around a bit! 🙂

  • Myths, myths, myths…
    Forgiveness can be a long process sometimes because when you see the offender and he or she says something that reminds you of the offence, the pain comes back a bit sharp. At this time, I run back to grace…
    Thanks God He never runs out of it, and never withholds it from anyone who desires it.
    Thanks Beth for staying on this very fundamental issue, it is very important because if we do not learn to forgive, we cannot receive forgiveness.
    Thanks a lot for hosting today, do have a super blessed day!
    Love

    • Yes, our focus needs to shift from the pain and loss of our offender to the comforting and loving arms of our Father. I’m so glad that’s something you’ve made your habit, Ugochi. I’m sure that’s why you are as gracious and insightful as you are. 🙂 Thanks for linking up and for encouraging me today, my friend!

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  • Sherry- Intentionally Yours

    What a difference when we remember forgiveness is about trusting and believing God more than the other person. THANK YOU for sharing this, we all need this powerful reminder…it’s not about feeling it. I’d much rather swim in HIS ocean!

    • You’re so welcome, Sherry! And you and I need to run for that coast and splash around in His comforting waves of grace, my friend! Hugs to you!

  • Great words Beth. Often I find Christians (and myself) are too free to say “I forgive you” without going though the process. We are afraid of God’s words that “as you forgive others, so will you be forgiven”. But, if we say the words, but have not processed the hurt, then have we really forgiven?
    Love hurts. That is part of the deal. When we love (especially like Jesus, selflessly), then we are giving others permission to be able to potentially hurt us. But, if our relationships are to be restored, if we are to grow to know one another deeper, then we have to examine our self and ask “why was I hurt”, “is this about me and my expectations or injustice”. Those questions will help to begin the process – the Paschal process that Jesus modeled for us – of truly forgiving a wrong.
    You are awesome, Beth!

    • Wow, Scott! You bring up so many more truths about forgiveness in just a simple comment! Processing the hurt and letting it go are so important. I’ll be exploring some of that at some point, but I really love the questions you’ve added for self-examination in this process. People rarely know how to process the pain that other’s have caused them, much less the way to examine their own hearts for the sins they’ve committed through bitterness. Thanks for adding this to the discussion!

  • Megan@DoNotDisturb

    2013 was proven to be a big year to learn about forgiveness for me. Still working through all the ins and outs of it but what you have shared here is certainly true.

    Megan

    • I’m so sorry to hear that, Megan. I’ve had some struggles in this area as well and that’s part of why I’ve delved into these posts recently. I’m often preaching to myself as I let God inspire the topics. Thanks so much for linking up and weighing in!

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  • Alecia

    I am so glad you wrote this! So much truth here! There is peace that comes from choosing to forgive and live in that forgiveness. But it can also be a process and isn’t always immediate. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t being obedient to God’s word.

    • Thanks so much, Alecia! I’m glad you feel encouraged by it. Amen, to the process of forgiveness! And yes, I wanted to remind people that our feelings aren’t always good indicators of what’s truly been forgiven and you’ve said it well, “That doesn’t mean they aren’t being obedient to God’s word.” Thanks for linking up and coming by!

  • bluecottonmemory

    Beth – I so want to hug you right now – to thank you for this post. I’ve known this in my heart but so needed someone to explain it – because for some reason that is a balm to this wounded heart – and it is a refreshing while pumping me up for the battle! Thank you sweet friend – from God’s mouth to your pen to my heart!
    Maryleigh

    • Well, thank you so much for that word of encouragement, Maryleigh! I’m glad this has helped you! I thought of your comment on another post as I wrote this. I was hoping it would be helpful and clarify where you’ve had confusion. Thanks so much for the “desire” to hug me! It’s just as good as the real thing! 🙂

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    There are a couple of issues for which forgiveness is hard for me. I’d as soon execute summary justice.

    But I’m beginning to realize that forgiveness really isn’t supposed to give US anything. It’s outward directed. On the Cross, Jesus asked for forgiveness for those who were killing Him. It wasn’t a way to get them to stop – it was a simple “I care about y’all.”

    We may get a benefit, sure, but I have a feeling that in the eyes of the Almighty, that doesn’t matter. Forgiveness is a duty, and not something which entitles us to cosmic freebies.

    I don’t like that idea AT ALL.

    (BTW, I linked to Wedded Wednesday on my blog, and put my thumbnail – complete with Sylvia the Do – above. Though I put my name, and not the name of today’s post…sigh.)

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2014/01/date-while-youre-married.html

    • Yes! Andrew, that was something I tried to communicate in this post, but I’m not sure if it was stated quite as strongly as it could’ve been. So I’m grateful that you’ve highlighted that truth here. Yep, no “cosmic freebies” when it comes to dying to ourselves! We are called to “carry a cross” not to find a way to make ourselves feel better. Thanks for sharing!

  • Beth, I have found that forgiveness is one of the hardest things to actually do and be successful with it. It does not happen overnight but when you look to God every day for encouragement he will get you through the process with an open heart. This post was truly inspirational and I thank you for sharing this with us! Have a wonderful day!

    • It truly is one of the hardest things–perhaps that’s why the ultimate sacrifice of God is to forgive and pay the penalty for our sin! Thanks for weighing in on the subject and for encouraging me as well!

  • “We cannot truly know Christ’s
    sacrificial love and forgiveness without experiencing and trusting Him
    in these dark, painful valleys that He, Himself, walked.” Such true words. Thank you Beth, and a timely reminder. I think we can get to complacent even with forgiveness.

    • That’s a truth that God keeps reminding me of this past year, Emma. I, “we” (if we call ourselves Christ-followers) are called to suffer like Christ. Very often I try to avoid suffering, and that’s so evident to me when it comes to forgiving and letting mercy be my response to others. Forgiveness hurts–there’s no way around it! But it’s knowing Christ that makes it all worthwhile!

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  • Donn S. Kenyon

    This quote from the “None But the Hungry Heart” devotional is timeless in its purpose to bring into focus the part “self” plays in wanting forgiveness from an offender. Self wants vindication. But, what does that leave us with? Pride.

    3-26. The Hand Of God

    “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Pet. 2:19, 20).

    When self reacts correctly in a difficult situation, it can only result in the sin of self-righteousness. In order for Christ’s righteousness to be manifested, the Holy Spirit must hold self inoperative by means of the Cross.

    “Accustom yourself in everything that happens, to recognize the hand of the Father. Before you fix your thoughts on the person who did it, first be still, and remember, God allows me to come into this trouble to see if I shall glorify Him in it. This trial, be it the greatest or least, is allowed of God, and is His will concerning me. Let me first recognize and submit to God’s will in it. Then in the rest of soul which this gives, I shall receive wisdom to know how to behave in it. With my eye turned from man to God, suffering wrong is not as hard as it seems.

    “The Lord Jesus knew that His Father would care for His rights and honor. But he who lives in the visible, wants his honor to be vindicated at once here below. He who lives in the eternal, and as seeing the Invisible, is satisfied to leave the vindication of his rights and honor in God’s hands; he knows that they are safe with Him. Giving one’s all into God’s keeping brings rest and peace.” -Andrew Murray

    “When He suffered, He . . . committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23).

    • Thanks so much for sharing this, Donn. It’s a task that I am slowly learning to do–endure grief for Christ’s sake. I appreciate you weighing in on the conversation. You’ve add some great thoughts!

  • I just love the words in the image, Beth- Forgiveness is a journey that never ends. The one thing that God continues to teach me about offense is trust. That human beings fail but He does not, and if I keep my eyes on Him and stop trying to fix things, stop brooding and stop trying to bring a little justice to myself, I will come out better not bitter, closer to him not further away. It really is a long often winding road! There days we feel “we got this, ah finally!” but then get yanked back by our feelings and emotions and circumstances. Thanks for this, it’s such an encouragement to me.

    • Yes, “better, not bitter” is the goal! And with our hearts running into Christ’s open arms, we won’t fail the test, Ngina! And yes, you bring up another important truth here – forgiveness is never ending because we will never escape the pain of this fallen world–until we are on the other side of eternity anyway! Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, sweet friend. Hugs to you!

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