There is no end to forgiveness. Forgiving in itself is the release of animosity, anger, vengeance, or resentment against someone who has harmed you-whether they ask for it or deserve it. That last piece is often difficult.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation. One does not need to forget or deny the seriousness of the offense. The consequence from inflicting pain on another does not change. The distance established due to constant abuse, pain, or loss does not have to end. The relationship in itself doesn’t have to change.
Currently, I am unpacking an apology I’ve received over and over. A normal confrontation in addiction. After multiple apologies, the words become gray matter. Trusting the sincerity of an apology you’ve heard multiple times is difficult.
Although the words reflect honest reflection, they feel hollow in the midst of repetition. Still, my forgiving is not tied to someone else’s decision to apologize. My forgiveness is rooted in living my life for Christ- who clarified this act of obedience.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. ~Matthew 6:14-15, NIV
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22, NIV
The challenge of forgiving is real. We don’t desire to live poisoned and enduring the outcome of unforgiveness. Holding this grudge sets off a firestorm within. Depression, anxiety, and life-altering stress can rapidly transform our thoughts, actions, and physical health. Rolling around in their offense over and over is consuming.
Our good Father knew this state of being would be detrimental to our soul. Unforgiveness holds your spirit captive as it builds walls between you and God. Your spiritual growth is held stagnant and stalled as you allow the unforgiving spirit to rise above righteousness.
When parents of loved ones battling substance use share their deepest pain, health issues, depression or anxiety with me, my first question is, “Have you forgiven them?”
That is the importance of this first step. Once you’ve acknowledged their offense and your pain, you stumble on towards forgiveness. It will not be easy. Addiction uses an unforgiving heart to secure a chain, and yoke you to it’s darkness.
Addiction in science is one thing, addiction in the spiritual sense is another.
When we confront the evil substance dependency unfolds, we see sin. Sin is an act against God, a serious and regrettable fault. Whether they sin against God or come at you with one offense after another, our only command is to forgive. And it is tormenting.
You may feel angry towards God for allowing calamity. You may run from him or ignore him (I did). It is easy to project your frustration of the offender onto a God who is blameless. As you manage your forgiveness, you will manage your emotions properly. You will unlock the yoke of darkness in your spirit and tether once again to your comforter, guider, counselor- the Holy Spirit. You will be free.
Forgivers live above. They are free from suffocating anger. A person who forgives will let go of the bitter and negative feelings which entangle us. In releasing the dark side of unforgiveness we empower ourselves to heal. In turn, we move on with our lives. Free from the mental and emotional distress and toxic burden, we find peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding and can only be received through God, our Father.