As I am currently reading She is Free by Andi Andrew, the chapter I am finishing up, Freedom From Unforgiveness, specifically addresses why forgiving is so necessary for our healing. I am not going to go into the reasons she lists simply because you've heard them all. Her points are the same points we've been hearing for years. She does however offer the explanation that it must come from the heart, that it is an act of free will, and that even if we don't feel a change, through our prayers to forgive, God is given permission to give us the grace and compassion to actually do it. It might not be immediate, but it will happen.
As you might suspect, she mentions that we all likely have people that pop into our minds and that sometimes the number one person we need to forgive is ourselves. Realizing how true this was of me, I listed out in my journal my biggest regrets. (no, I am not going to share them) It was not a fun or enjoyable experience but something I knew that needed to be done.
Then came this morning. And the verse I was going to write out on the January Adoration plan from Sara Hagerty.
As I wrote out this verse, I kept thinking about Joseph's situation. This is what I journaled.
Joseph's brothers were malicious in their intent; they had hatred, envy, and malice in their
hearts when they devised the wicked scheme that ultimately saved them all. But no person
in my live that has ever hurt me has ever done so with willful intent to cause great harm. Have
selfish, thoughtless things been done and said that left wounds and scars? Undoubtedly. But none
of them were done with the goal of inflicting pain. This also helps me see my sins, destructive
choices, and ungodly actions the same way. Not knowing better, not knowing how to turn to
God for help, not understanding the truly selfish motives that lived deep inside didn't help me at all.
I am without excuse, but can see now where I must be compassionate with myself in my
ignorance and lack of understanding. Help me to heal from the choices I made that haunt
me to this day knowing full well that the worst of anything I have ever done is not beyond
your redemption and restoration.
And I can tell you that realizing this is not only a great comfort for anything that I have done or was done to me, but also in the harm that was done to anyone I love. I can tell you hands down that I have held on to unforgiveness in my heart to those who caused harm to those I love. I'm not proud of this, I'm just being honest about it.
I don't know who we all need to forgive. What I do know is that understanding there is a difference between willful intent and selfish behavior that has consequences, makes the process a bit better. If you were in a situation like Joseph all I can offer you is the knowledge that God will use it some way. I know that doesn't make it better, but it also doesn't make it less true.
I pray that this has been as freeing to you as it has been to me to not only see others differently, but to see ourselves differently as well. More than that, I hope it helps us all to realize how desperately we need God and the grace and mercy He lavishly pours out on us every day.