Today we welcome; Tammy Rotzoll to the Living Our Priorities community as a guest writer! Tammy encourages others to live a life they can be proud of over at Footprints of Inspiration. We asked Tammy to inspire our readers to draw closer to God. If you’ve been struggling in the area of forgiveness, this post is for you!
Are you holding a grudge? Has someone hurt you and you cannot forgive them? Or perhaps you don’t want to forgive them because they certainly don’t deserve it for hurting you? Did you know that forgiveness is for you? It’s not for the person that hurt you.
Think about how you’re feeling right now. You’ve got someone who’s hurt you. Chances are it’s eating you up. You’re completely obsessing over it and can’t let it go. It’s making you completely miserable.
Most likely, the person who hurt you isn’t even giving it another thought. But you are, you’re getting more hurt and enraged the longer you stew over it. You may even be talking about it to others. And not in a Christian way (by going to fellow Christians and trying to work through it), but by gossiping about them. Putting that person down to make you feel better for the pain and hurt that they’ve caused you.
It’s not healthy to feel this way, to obsess over it, to deny forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not an easy road. Most often, it’s not a quick journey. It’s far easier to stay angry and think they deserve everything they get. But here’s something to think about….when’s the last time that God forgave you? Did you deserve it? I know there have been plenty of times that God has forgiven me and I, certainly, did not deserve it.
Sometimes we get so caught up thinking how this person needs to change that we don’t even see what our hurt and anger is doing to us.
I recently went through a very tough situation myself and still have to have a relationship with this person. I was in a really difficult place; and I knew that I needed to forgive them, but I was completely gridlocked. They hurt me and still continue to do so. It took me awhile, but I finally found a place of peace. A place of being able to deal with my feelings, forgive this person and move on.
Since this person is continuing their behavior, they certainly aren’t getting anything from my forgiveness, but I am. I’m free of the anger. I’m free of the bonds of not being able to think about anything but those very negative thoughts.
And you can do it too. You can let go and let God. You can start to feel peace again. You can begin to move forward and not worry yourself over the hurt they keep dishing out to you.
The Journey Of Forgiveness
So, just how do you begin the journey of forgiveness? Pray.
“Never stop praying.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
Go to God and ask Him to help you forgive this person. You may even have to ask Him to help you want to forgive this person.
Will the ability to forgive come as soon as you pray that first time? Probably not. Will you feel whole and at peace with the very first prayer that you pray? Not likely.
Forgiveness is a process and believe it or not, God has something to teach you through all of this as well. So it’ll take as long as it takes for God to teach you what you need to learn.
I lost count of how many times I went to God in prayer – seriously, I lost count! I thought I was never going to be able to forgive this person. That I was going to have this hurt and anger burning inside me for the rest of my life – or at least for a very long time.
But one day during one of my prayer sessions, I started out the same way always did. I asked God how I was supposed to forgive this person. I’d been dealing with this over and over again. I had to encounter this person on a regular basis in my life.
And then it happened. I heard him say to me, “forgive.” Yep, I actually heard Him! And just like that, I felt all the anger and frustration melt away and I forgave. I finally felt peace knowing that God took it from me. I trusted Him to handle the situation and I realized that this person couldn’t define who I was. This person was not who I had to please. God is the only one that I need to define who I am. And quite honestly, He is the easiest of all to please because He already knows me.
However, it wasn’t just a couple days or weeks. No! It was actually months for me to really forgive. Clearly, God had a lot to teach me!
Go to God and thank Him. No, you don’t have to thank Him for the bad situation, but you can trust that He will bring something good out of this. So thank Him for the good that you know will come. That learning experience that you know He will deliver.
Ask Him to help you see the person through His eyes. Boy, oh boy, when you begin to do this and see that person through God’s eyes, it’s completely humbling to realize that they are walking in the same trenches you are. They may have different challenges, but they have them, just like you.
Here’s the thing – it’s not your job to change someone. It is your job to love them unconditionally. That certainly seems like a tall order, but when we really sit down and think about it, this is what Jesus does with us all the time. He loves us unconditionally and I, for one, am so grateful for this because believe me, I certainly don’t deserve it.
Forgiveness sets you free. Recognizing that it isn’t your job to change someone is so completely freeing. Is it easy to love them unconditionally? Not at first, but once you forgive, it completely transforms your perspective and changes the way you see that person.
Something a friend of mine shared with me recently is “it’s not your battle!” Whoa! Talk about stopping me in my tracks. Yes, there are battles that we have to fight, but when you have someone that is continually rude, disrespectful and downright hurtful, they aren’t your battle to fight.
What Will You Learn From This?
You’ll start to see the situation from God’s perspective. And His perspective is far more beautiful and far more accurate than anything we dream up in our heads.
You’ll learn your role in the situation. Each and every time! I know, I know. You’ve been so angry and hurt that it never occurred to you that you played a role in the situation. Now maybe you didn’t set out to hurt them. But did you gossip about them? Did you think ugly thoughts about them? Did you even try to respond with love? If not, then you played a negative role in the situation, and God just taught you that no matter what, you need to show them love. You need to let God shine through you.
So today I challenge you. Go to God in prayer. Ask Him to help you even want to forgive this person, and then trust that He will help you through this.
It won’t be immediate. It may even take months. Be patient and remember that God is teaching you something throughout all this. Something beautiful and so very worth the pain.
I say it again, forgiveness is for you. Go to God. He’s waiting patiently for you.
Guest Post Written By, Tammy Rotzoll
You can find Tammy Rotzoll at Footprints of Inspiration where she helps you take charge and find direction on how to accomplish your goals and live a Christ-centered life that you can be proud of. What her readers love most is that there is no pressure to be perfect. We are all living in the trenches together, no one person better than the other. Learning to build each other up and make a difference in the lives around us.
~ André and Timberley Gray