I work weekends at a hospital in a neighboring town. I have about a 40-45 minute commute. Sometimes I ride in silence, but most of the time I use those 40 minutes to listen to American Family Radio (AFR). Yes, it's talk radio. I'm officially old. I learn a lot from the hosts that seem to be on during my travel time. When I'm driving to work on Sunday mornings, my commute is only about 10 minutes because I stay Saturday nights with my sweet mother-in-law. When I leave her house, I always catch the middle of a sermon on AFR. This past Sunday I started listening as he was talking about the Lord's prayer that most of us learned as a child. Matthew 6:9-13
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
While it is a beautiful prayer, he said no one pays attention to the verses directly following it. Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This is something I have been trying to live by and teach my girls for a long time now...
Years ago, I had so much anger, pain, and resentment built up from things that had happened in my life. It was because of all these built up feelings that I started making life choices (and not the best ones) searching for things to make me feel whole and happy... at peace. I reached a point where I felt my life was spinning out of control and I didn't like myself or who I was trying to be anymore. I did a lot of "soul-searching", as people call it, and I knew the root of my problem was all of the things I had been hanging onto from my past. I knew I needed to let things go and the only way to do that was through forgiveness. I needed to forgive others and I needed to forgive myself. Surprisingly, forgiving others was the easier of the two. I still struggle with forgiving myself sometimes.
Forgiveness doesn't mean that its forgotten. It doesn't mean that it doesn't still hurt sometimes. But it does mean that you forgave sinful actions or words and you can now move past them. We are all sinners and fall short. Our sins may be different, but they all require forgiveness...from each other and from our Heavenly Father. Being able to forgive lifts an unimaginable weight off your shoulders. There is a quote in my Bible by Jan Silvious that says, "I like to define forgiveness as giving up the right to punish the one who has hurt you. That's what Jesus did on the cross."
If you verbalize forgiveness to someone and they will not acknowledge they wronged you, don't let yourself be consumed with all those feeling of anger and hurt again. Some people are so full of pride and not able to admit when they are wrong. Do not let that influence your forgiveness and ability to let go. In the same way, don't be the prideful one. If you have wronged someone, ask for forgiveness and also forgive yourself...even if they don't forgive you. You see, your character is not defined by someone else's actions but by your own. Your relationship with Christ is not based on them forgiving you, but your ability to forgive (just like Christ forgave us) does have an impact on your relationship with Him! How can we expect to be forgiven in Heaven if we cant forgive others(and ourselves) here on Earth.
If you are harboring feeling of anger, pain, and resentment... I urge you to take them to the alter. Pray over the cause of them, pray for the people involved, ask the Lord to help you let go of it all. It's not always easy, but it is SO worth it!