Continued from here.
In my last blog entry, I shared what forgiveness is not. Now, let’s focus on what it is.
As I shared in this blog entry, when my best friend ended our seven-year friendship, I was devastated. That devastation rapidly morphed into anger, bitterness, and rage. I cried out for God to heal my pain, but I was unwilling to let go of my anger. I felt justified in hating this person for hurting me, and I wanted nothing to do with forgiving her … or anyone else who hurt me.
I did not realize that just as bathing in the Jordan River was God’s vehicle for healing Naaman’s leprosy, forgiveness is God’s vehicle for healing our emotional pain. When I rejected God’s command to forgive, I rejected His healing.
God placed a question on my heart: “Do I love Him more than I hate this friend?” Honestly, it was a close call. On the one hand, I had fallen in love with God over the summer, but I also hated that yet another person had betrayed me and broken my heart.
I ultimately decided that I loved God slightly more than I hated this ex-friend, so I was willing to do what He said. However, I had absolutely no idea how to forgive her.
God led me to the Overcoming Unforgiveness chapter of Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word. The chapter ends with five pages of “fill in the blank” prayers, converted from Scripture, for praying blessings over the person you need to forgive. God placed on my heart that I needed to pray those blessings over my ex-friend daily.
My attitude was negative when I started. I want her to suffer, not to be blessed, so while I was obedient in praying the prayers, I did not mean them … at first. When we are obedient to God – and particularly when it’s very hard for us to do it – God does the heavy lifting for us.
Over the next few weeks, my intense anger abated, and God healed my pain. It certainly wasn’t instant … or easy. I had to choose day after day … week after week … to pray for my ex-friend.
Just as this was getting easier, can you guess what God did next? He placed on my heart, “Now it’s time to do the same thing with your child abusers.” Because I had experienced healing through forgiving my ex-friend, I was more willing to pray for my child abusers … day after day, week after week, and month after month. In time, I reached a place where I no longer needed to pray for any of them because I no longer hurt! That’s how I know when I have completed the process of forgiving someone – if it still hurts, I have more work to do.
[Graphic: Cover of Beth Moore’s book, Praying God’s Word. Courtesy of Amazon.com.]