Forgive and Live!

Hurt people, hurt people; we’ve heard this phrase often and it’s true. Realizing that everyone has suffered some type of wounding in life, leaving scars of pain, we can see that if left ignored your hurt will hurt others. This article is the conclusion of Painful Pasts (Part 1 and Part 2). Here we will explore how to be set free.

Have you washed your windows lately?

Some people drive around with dirty a windshield and this makes it hard to navigate the road ahead. Seeing clearly makes a big difference when we are traveling through life. We all have our blind spots and with humility and an open heart, God will give us good people who will come alongside and help us see those areas. Then, like the dirty windshield, we have a choice to make, wash it and see or wait until it rains (God’s grace allowing us to see some of it) or an accident happens (again, God’s grace with a more direct hit).  These blinding filters upon our hearts need cleaning, if we fail to respond when we discover a blinder, we end up in a very destructive and dangerous place.

Accidents Happen

Yes, they do, and prevention is worth a pound of cure. I like to take a defensive driving course every three years to sharpen my driving skills and receive a 10% discount on my auto insurance. Insurance companies have found that those who will take the time and preventive care to take the course will make an attempt to drive defensively. They remind us of current laws, give attention to potential hazards while driving, and to make adjustments for constantly changing road conditions. Navigating life is a bit like this. If we’re going to avoid unnecessary accidents, we must invest energy in prevention and recovery.

When we live with a Que sera, sera, attitude, we demonstrate human pride in a way that says, “Don’t trouble yourself, live and let live, what will be, will be.” This attitude works against what the scripture tells us about sobriety, learning, and stewarding our lives well. We are told to care for others, to teach and model responsibility, study and learn, and to be good stewards of what we have been given.  

A good illustration of this attitude is a young person whose situation entitles them to a car, perhaps the family car, or they are given one by their parents or grandparents. Compare this to the young person to one who works and saves money to purchase their own car. Which vehicle will likely be more carefully driven and cared for? Which person will “see” the importance of maintaining the vehicle? And when an accident occurs, which will say, “Get off my back, accidents happen!”. Perspective often creates attitude.

Entitlement

When we view God as someone who should take care of us and fix everything in our lives so it runs smoothly, we tend to be like the child who has been given everything, it’s expected. We become angry with God over the injustice that has occurred or if things don’t go our way. We blame Him, or others, for our lot in life. Relationship with God is two-sided, both parties must reciprocally give to it.

The person who understands the sin-nature of all human beings realizes that God owes us nothing, yet offers us everything. With this outlook, we tend to approach Him with a proper fear and reverence for who He is. If our worldview is off biblically, nothing will be properly understood about life here on earth, or why things happen as they do. Missing this big piece of life’s puzzle makes one think that only good things should happen. Suffering of any sort – physical or emotional abuse in any form — becomes monumental and we demand justice. When we find our proper posture before God, we discover that we have all sinned against someone, and it’s by His grace that we have not perpetrated the same, or worse, against another.

Hurt people, hurt people. Apart from Jesus Christ, everyone born into this world has experienced the pain of being sinned against and in turn, has sinned against others. Jesus himself was greatly violated, tortured, betrayed, and hated, yet he reviled not against those who harmed Him. He knew that one day His Father, the only just One, would make all things right.

Truth and Justice

Until we desire to know Truth, we will not allow for God’s method of justice. Rather, we will demand justice our way.

God set up earthly authority as it is described in Romans Chapter 13 and Paul said we should avail ourselves of this human government. In chapter 12, he claims that vengeance belongs to God alone (Romans 12:19-21). Since God is the ONLY ONE who sees and knows everything about every situation, and the intricacies of every human heart, He is the only one qualified to exact vengeance and justice. And He will one day. He alone is just. His Truth and mercy endure forever. The best we can do as flawed human beings are to enact laws and punishment according to the best of our ability. And yes, we fail, but God knows. Innocent people have gone to jail. Parents have not been fair, they have failed in many ways. We have missed the mark. So, what do we do with these failures? How can we best promote truth and justice while living in a hurting and confused world?

Humility and Forgiveness

It becomes clear, over time, when a person’s heart has been cleansed by God and granted forgiveness from their past. Humility is a marker of that, along with the willingness to make things right. It’s true, we cannot take back what we have done, but we certainly can, in humility, go to those we have wronged and name what we have done and ask forgiveness. This is foundational to healing wounds that we have inflicted upon others.

Sometimes we are not aware of the damage we have caused another and that’s where humility helps us. It allows others to share their feelings and pain with us. Ask someone who has a broken relationship with you, “What have I done to hurt you?” Yes, it will hurt to hear it, but if you have experienced God’s grace and forgiveness, you will be able to listen with an attitude of concern. We must examine our own hearts and see where we have wronged another and make it right. If we do not, we will become the abuser we so despised.

Matthew 6:14-15  (ESV) “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.

Stonewalled

But what about those who are fearful, afraid of confronting someone who has hurt them, what can they do? This is understandable in many circumstances, depending on the abuse suffered, the relationship of those involved, child to parent, or subordinate to authority figure. This is where it helps to have someone who can come alongside and offer to help, perhaps mediate. 

For those who’ve been deeply hurt it would be wise to seek out a helper, rather than continue trying to get by. Building a wall to protect the pain inside only magnifies it. Some victims lock themselves into a prison of despair, thinking the other will suffer from their silence. Each must decide for themselves to become free of the past and move into a healthy new day.

How’s your heart?

Have you opened your heart to God lately? Have you thought of allowing His refreshing cleansing stream to wash you? Or are you crusted over, forever blaming and reliving all the wrongs that have been done to you? You will not find peace or contentment if you resist having your heart cleansed; even the good things of the past become wormwood to you.

Continued rumination is dangerous. Without taking action toward the right, you will be consumed to where your thinking will become distorted. You will no longer find joy in anything. The people around you will only frustrate and fail you.  You will not be able to recall the blessings of God but only the fruit of your miserable heart. If you are there, humble yourself and turn. Get the help you need to begin to wash your windshield so you can see where you’re headed. Accidents may still happen but you’ll be able to handle them differently. You will begin to see joy in everyday life again. The burden of shame and blame will be lifted from you and you will see like never before.

God will grant grace to those who come to Him in sincere humility asking for his mercy. Taking steps toward change may involve removing yourself from a destructive relationship, involving civil authorities, placing temporary protective boundaries.

We have all failed God and unless we move into a place of surrender to Him, we will never progress from our painful past to healing freedom. Dear friend, let this be your starting point today. Take the necessary steps to forgive and live!

Counselor Rick Thomas shares here on allowing people to share their feelings with you, whether in a good healthy way or not (12 minutes)…   https://youtu.be/zGw2k8Rz6sc

Photo Credit: Google Images

Related articles: Painful Pasts (Part 1) and Painful Pasts (Part 2)


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