By Cal Meuzelaar, LISW
Why should we forgive? Because not forgiving makes us prisoners. Bitterness, rage and anger make us captive to lives of misery. We’re only hurting ourselves. Forgiving frees us from these chains. Just as we have been forgiven, we are blessed when we forgive others.
How do we forgive? First we make the very difficult decision to forgive. We don’t deny that we’ve been hurt and wronged, but we decide we no longer want to be bound to it. Then we work on the process. Sometimes delivery is immediate and sometimes it takes time.
Prayer is essential. We can say a profound but simple prayer. “Father, help me to fully forgive for I am deeply hurt.” If needed, we can repeat saying this for days. Journaling is an excellent way to release the pain and document progress. Don’t be surprised if you grow in empathy for the offender while never condoning their actions.
Forgiveness doesn’t require telling the person. Remember the person that is freed, is you.
And forgiveness doesn’t equal reconciliation. Sometimes it’s not safe to reconcile. Scripture says, as much as you are able be at peace with everyone, but it doesn’t say reconcile with everyone.
Ultimately, forgiveness frees us to grow into the people Jesus wants us to be. As it says in Ephesians 4, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
May God bless you as you begin the journey!
Cal Meuzelaar, LISW is the Pine Rest Director of Iowa Services. He is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with 30 years of experience as a therapist, working the last 28 years with Pine Rest.