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Forgiveness is for you

forgiveness

I’ve had so many people write to me lately about forgiveness.

How to forgive when the pain still hurts so deep. How to move on when the person has caused so much loss. How to let go when what you really want to do is pull in close.

And believe me I have been in every one of these places.

When the pain of letting go seems more unbearable than the pain of holding on.

When punishing them tricks us into thinking we’re not just hurting ourselves.

I’ve lived through the process of learning how to forgive when the apology never comes. I’ve wrestled with how to prevent growing a root of bitterness in the soil of my heart.

Because the truth is the process of forgiveness does not come easy. It is not for those who cling tightly to pride.

And the older I get, the less I am sure of, but I am convinced that holding onto unforgiveness literally poisons ourselves.

And the further we try to run from our pain, the faster it sneaks up behind us.

Because it knows. You see, it’s our deepest fear.

And as much as I’ve gotten to the place of loving myself better, at times I am still my worst enemy.

Any moment I am liable to face plant.

One word, one memory, one half-hearted backstabbing hello and it’s over. Feet scrambling for solid footing I slide back into the memory of my wounds.

Feelings rush, and they’re not good leaders.

Soon we find the wounds are fresh, and the pain is real, and we realize we’re not getting any better.

Because unforgiveness doesn’t hurt the person who hurt us.

Chances are, they don’t even care.

They can’t hear or feel the anger that lives in our spirit. The venom that has become more potent over time, armed and ready for the next attack.

But the next attack is likely from the unassuming neighbor down the street, our child or husband or friend.

Because when we carry unforgiveness it doesn’t discriminate between who hurt us first, and who hurts us next.

It doesn’t care what really happened, but what it remembers happening.

It builds and becomes something beyond itself. It overshadows everything that was, and forbids what could ever be.

It consumes our mind until it is all we see. Every relationship, every situation what we see is the pain. The rejection, abandonment and betrayal that lies beneath the surface of our lives.

You see, when our hearts are hurting they hold us hostage.

And unforgiveness holds wounds wide open.

And we think we’re protecting ourselves continually wrapping our wounds, making excuses for our pain, that we forget that scars don’t still hurt.

We forget that time when we were broken and the bone healed stronger. That time we were abandoned and love rooted in us deeper.

Forgiving someone might not seem easy, but a lifetime of bitterness is much harder to bear.

And we have all seen and known and experienced people who harbor unforgiveness and nurture bitter, critical spirits. Because that is the default. That is what happens when we don’t choose another road.

Unforgiveness allows someone else to write the ending to your story. It gives them the power to determine your day and who you turn out to be.

Laying down pride might be hard in the moment but it’s grace lasts a lifetime.

The greatest challenges of my life have been to walk away from some of the people I have loved the most. To love them still and yet not hold on, walk with or stand by. Not hold out hope or expectation, but to let them be fully who they are no matter what they can give back to me. No matter how much they desire to hurt me.

Because you see we are all a product of our past. We are all carrying the by-products of our pain and most of us are just doing the best we can. Forgiveness means I get that, because I’ve been there too. I know how prone I am to my flesh that I can forgive when someone else falls prey to their own.

Because it’s never really about us. People hurt one another out of their own embroiled bitterness and pain. Out of their own unforgiveness of spirit.

And a spirit of unforgiveness cripples our hearts.

When we allow others to be free to be who they are, we get to be free to be who we are because they don’t hurt us anymore.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean walking back in. It doesn’t mean we’re sorry they left. It means they no longer have the right to influence our future. 

Forgiveness is the conscious choice to remain soft in a hard world.

We no longer care what they meant for harm, but we’re grateful God had a plan to use it for our good.

Break free from the trap of unforgiveness and the wound that threatens to remain fresh.

When the memory fades and nothing remains but a scar, you will see it was worth it.

Because in setting them free, you will find yourself. Free.


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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Barbara September 23, 2014, 11:29 am

    Amen!

  • Qualla September 23, 2014, 2:10 pm

    I just wanted to let you know that God used you to answer my prayers this morning. I have been struggling with forgiving a group of people who hurt me really deeply, so deeply we haven’t spoken in 2 years. I thought I had forgiven them, but I find I have only held on to bitterness which lashes out any time their names come up. Yesterday forgiveness for the past was the subject of my daily bible study which left me with a lot of questions. This morning, this post was in my inbox with the answers. Thank you so much for your amazing words. They really touched my heart this morning. I’m still struggling and actually really scared to put it into practice but I feel God working on my heart and know I am heading the right direction. Thank you again for this beautiful post and for letting God use you for His glory.

    God Bless.

    • Tammy September 23, 2014, 3:18 pm

      Oh Qualla I am so touched to hear this. I love how God speaks to us and how we know He is speaking when we see patterns and themes. Praying for you and your situation, that you might be able to finally set your heart free. xo

  • Donna September 26, 2014, 12:00 am

    Such a nice read…thank you! It’s not an easy thing to do but truly forgiving yourself & others is such a beautiful thing to do for yourself! I always enjoy reading your posts they are wonderful.

    • Tammy September 26, 2014, 1:25 am

      It truly is. Thank you Donna! I’m so glad you’re here. xo

  • Hollis September 28, 2014, 11:17 am

    Hi there! Loved the post, I’m new so the first one I’ve gotten…. I believe every word even though it’s hard and I struggle with it. But what if the person u need to forgive is someone u can’t walk away from, like ur husband? He did some hurtful things that he regrets, has apologized time and again and I’m having a HARD time letting go and forgiving. I do okay for awhile and then a thought comes back and I’m right back where I started, consumed by what he did. I’ve prayed some, probably not enough…. I just don’t know how to forgive and it NEVER COME UP AGAIN??!!

  • Lo October 18, 2014, 9:26 pm

    I love this topic because I want to believe in it. It’s logical, and my gut knows it’s true. …for most people.

    I’ve read books on forgiveness – all of what you’ve written summarizes what I’ve read. But, here’s my problem that maybe one of you can help with- no matter how hard or often I walk through the forgiveness steps identified & explained in books, nothing – no amount of forgiveness “practice” – can stop my mind from feeling stung by the memory of the offense every time I think of what was done to me. The sting is still as fresh today as it was 15 yrs ago for issue 1, or 5 yrs ago for issue 2.

    The short answer is that I need to let go, but that’s the problem. I don’t know how to let go of the memories. And with that memory comes the sting of inflicted harm/pain/offense. I can’t eradicate that memory, so how does one learn to live with that (integrating the memory into daily life), despite still feeling cut to the bone so deeply? I feel like I’m forgiveness-impaired. …as though I’m missing a mental faculty required to properly forgive.

    I realize forgiveness doesn’t include forgetting, but for me, there’s no way to omit the associated pain with that memory.

    I’ve tried everything- therapy, prayer, meditation, etc. Nothing takes that sting away, and so I don’t know how to let go and proceed to the next step of the forgiveness journey.

    Advice? Feedback?

    • Tammy October 18, 2014, 10:45 pm

      Oh Lo, I can totally empathize with the feeling of being “forgiveness impaired.” It took me a long time to forgive some things. Things I wanted to carry with me because their weight was so familiar. I wasn’t sure who I would be without it. But the longer I carried it the more it hurt. The more I realized I was hurting myself. I guess there is no easy way or step to follow, it’s a choice. A choice to let it go for no other reason than that you want to be free. Praying for your heart. xo

  • Brenda June 12, 2015, 5:50 am

    What do you do when leaving your marriage is as painful as staying in your marriage? I feel like I am sinking with either choice! All advice appreciated!

    • Tammy June 13, 2015, 9:57 am

      Wow, Brenda. Such a hard question and one only you can discern through conversation with God. I strongly suggest you seek counseling to help guide you and give you tools through this process. Much love & prayers your way. xoxo

  • lisa October 9, 2015, 11:29 pm

    Thank you so much Tammy for your beautiful words. I have been working on forgiving two siblings who have hurt me terribly, while at the same time grieving the passing of my mother and another one of my siblings, and it has been an extremely difficult season of my life. My faith has allowed me much comfort in knowing that I will be with my mother again (and hopefully my brother who passed). Surprisingly, the forgiveness and the hurt is much harder to deal with! Your advice was so perfectly timed for me. Thank you for reminding me that it’s not about me; that its about the pain of the people who hurt me. This makes it easier to continue to pray for God to bless them. And it was really helpful to hear that “Forgiveness doesn’t mean walking back in. It doesn’t mean we’re sorry they left. It means they no longer have the right to influence our future.” So simple…. so profound…. so true.
    I just “stumbled” upon your blog today , but I am reminded that coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous, and, one more time, I get to praise Him for putting the right person in my path… in this case, you Tammy. God bless you, and thank you for being a light.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Lisa 🙂

    • Tammy October 10, 2015, 7:38 am

      Oh Lisa, what beautiful wisdom you have. He does in fact put people on our path and I couldn’t be more grateful when that happens. He’s so intimate. So personal. So detailed. Praying for you as you walk out this path of forgiveness and grief. You are lifted high. God bless you. xo

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