A young woman, who’d come to me for help, sat before me describing what a wonderful man her father was. Since I knew she was a victim of incest, I asked her, “If I brought in a ten-year old girl and told you that every night her father did to her what your father did to you, would you describe her daddy as a wonderful man?”
Tears spilled down her cheeks. “How else can I forgive him?”
How do we forgive the unpardonable? It is not by creating a fantasy or spinning a lie. Jesus didn’t look down on humankind and say, “I know they mean well; I think I’ll die for them.”
No, He said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” (Luke 9:41 NLT). Then He died for us.
In our Forgiveness series we are spelling FREEDOM, because forgiveness brings freedom. Last week we looked at why we forgive. Now, let’s look at the R in freedom. To forgive we must be Real.
Have you ever felt your emotions were too messy to face or share with God? We have a High Priest who sympathizes with us in our weaknesses and helps us in our time of need (Heb. 4:15-16). We don’t have to clean up before we show up with Him.
Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” (John 8:32 NIV). We must get real with ourselves and with God to experience true freedom from our injuries and bitterness.
To Forgive—Get Real
Pain can distort our perception. When we’ve been hurt, we need God’s help to see clearly. A good place to start is by praying Psalm 139:23-24.
Pain can distort our perception. When we’ve been hurt, we need God’s help to see clearly. A good place to start is by praying Psalm 139:23-24. #forgiveness Click To Tweet
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way” (NASB).
Journaling helps me express my jumbled thoughts and emotions to God and hear from Him. I suggest dividing your journaling into three parts.
Express everything you are thinking and feeling to God. Tell Him what happened and how wrong it was. You don’t have to sanitize your thoughts for Him. He already knows what you feel.
Write down all you know to be true about God. Let His promises fill you with hope.
A gentle pat stings sunburned skin. A past injury makes us more sensitive. We may overreact to a new scratch because it touches an old wound. If this happens it’s easy to assume wrong motives that aren’t there.
When we ask God to search us and get honest about how we see things, He can remind us of the character of the person who hurt us. If we’ve over reacted, then we can tell ourselves the truth—this is a good person who loves me. This hurt because it reminded me of another injury. My expectations were unreasonable. They can’t read my mind or understand my old wounds.
Viewing a scratch through old injuries impairs our vision and magnifies a hurt. Being real removes the log in our own eye (Matt. 7:3-5). We may discover we need forgiveness in this situation too.
Sometimes we condemn one person to protect our relationship with another. For example, Parent A was abusive. Parent B privately consoled us but never protected us. When we’re honest and realize Parent B had the power to shield us but chose to protect themselves, we realize we have two people to forgive.
Being honest about how a parent or an authority figure wronged us does not dishonor them. It allows us to clean our wounds so we can heal and love with God’s love. We’re not assigning blame. We’re acknowledging our pain so we can let it go
Jesus promises comfort for those who mourn. Being real opens our hearts to receive God’s balm.
Don’t skip the step of getting Real because you’re afraid facing the whole truth may cause you to feel Emotional. We’ll discuss that next time. Being real is necessary to truly forgive and find freedom.