Have I REALLY Forgiven That Person Who Hurt Me?
For years I have questioned the issue of forgiveness.
After all, when I pray The Lord's Prayer, I utter the words, "...forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Then I ask myself, "How do I know I have truly forgiven that person who has hurt me?"
Here's the problem. I may SAY I have forgiven, but I do not FEEL any different. If I find myself still upset or feeling hurt, I conclude I must not have forgiven that person in my heart.
Even Jesus Himself uttered these words in the midst of being crucified, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." I may be wrong, but I think Jesus Himself forgave the crowd during those horrible hours. He was just so full of LOVE.
Back to the question, "How do I know I have truly forgiven?"
Strange, but I believe God truly knows our hearts. Quite often He provides an answer out of the blue. I just have to LISTEN for His consistent surprises along my life path.
Here's what happened. Last Spring I was invited to attend a six-hour workshop led by a Christian woman who has traveled around the country giving her testimony. Since it is easy to forget the inspiration speakers share, I always take notes.
Toward the end of the presentation, she stated, "Here is how you know you have forgiven someone."
She totally had my attention!
She said something I never would have thought of: "The way you KNOW you have forgiven someone is, when you are in the same room with that person, YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE IN THEIR PRESENCE. It does not bother you at all to be around them."
Later, I pondered those in my life who have hurt me. I asked myself, "How do I feel when I am around them?" You see, I believe many who hurt us are those who are close to us: family members, good friends, relatives. Not to mention co-workers, even strangers.
Some of these people I never see again. I recall a near accident I had years ago. On my way to work, I made a left hand turn. I had looked both ways. Nothing coming. However, I forgot to lean forward and backward around the area of the car by the passenger window that totally blocks the view of any oncoming cars. A station wagon barely missed hitting me.
I immediately pulled over, and I got out of the car. The stranger parked his car on the other side of the street. I remember his angry face and that he wore a knit hat. He screamed at me, "YOU IDIOT!" Plus a few obscenities.
I responded, "I am very sorry, I did not see you."
He continued to call me names, and then he drove away.
I was so upset, I went back home, and I called into work late.
Here's an example of an incident with a stranger I would never see again. He was right. I screwed up. Although I was upset with the way he treated me, I could forgive him within a short span of time.
It is those who are close to me that I struggle with the most.
Here's the thing. I have heard the quote, "I can forgive what you did, I can forgive what you said, but I will never forget the way you made me feel."
It all goes back to feelings.
The good news, for myself, is, all those who have hurt me I CAN be in their presence and feel comfortable. Especially friends and family members.
The solution is not hurting back nor seeking revenge. This is the key to peace of mind. Although I may not feel the same way about them, (example, loss of respect) I will never tell them that. I can be kind to them with no problem. I know in my heart I have forgiven them.
All this does NOT happen overnight. Depending on the circumstance, it sometimes takes me a long time to get my bearings and feel comfortable around those who have hurt me. During these times, I confess I do yell at God and express my anger and hurt. But I don't think God would have it any other way. He wants those who love Him to be honest. He knows my heart anyway.
The passage of time helps. It is God's gift to His creation.
So anyone reading this, if you are hurting, I hope the above has helped you in some small way.
I truly mean that from my heart.
Blessings to all, Sincerely, Sparklea :)