“I want to forgive, but I just can’t.”
“After what he did to me, I’ll never forgive him!”
“I’ve forgiven and forgiven, but I don’t think it took. I don’t feel any different.”
Forgiveness is an absolute key to healing. We simply can’t heal if we don’t forgive. But what is forgiveness and how do we do it?
First let’s clear up what forgiveness isn’t. It isn’t saying that what the other person did was OK. It doesn’t relieve them from responsibility. It doesn’t mean we have to reconcile or be in relationship. If a person is not trustworthy, there is no requirement that I need to trust him or have anything to do with him.
So what is it then? Forgiveness is simply releasing the person and all he or she did to God. It is letting go of any vengeance I feel entitled to and leaving it to God to bring judgment (Romans 12:9). It is deciding that I am not the judge and jury. So when I forgive, I imagine simply handing the person over to God and saying, “You are the judge. I have no further claims on this person or their offense.” And then, I have to let go. If the offense has been significant, I may have to release the person over and over until the feelings come. But I forgive by faith, not by feelings.
Furthermore, forgiveness is not an option, it’s a commandment. (Colossians 3:13). It’s also required if we hope to receive forgiveness from God and others (Matthew 6:14). So swallow your pride and forgive anyone who has harmed you. You’ll be amazed how freeing it can be!