This is a tale of two ex-wives. Both are Christians. If you had to be one, which would you rather be?
Bee's husband of two years left her for another woman. When she asked why, he told her he had never loved her and that his new girlfriend was the love of his life. Bee was boiling mad when within a week she got an invitation to the wedding. She went anyway, but with her own agenda.
At the reception, Bee brought the bride a drink and asked if she could propose a toast. "All the best to you for as long as you live." By the end of the night, the bride had collapsed. Within an hour she was dead of a type of tasteless poison Bee had poured in her drink.
Prison of Her Own Choice
Bee knew she would spend the rest of her life in prison, but she didn't care. She had her revenge. She wanted her ex-husband to be miserable knowing the "love of his life" had died at her hand. But she could never get the actions of her husband or of herself out of her mind. It kept her in constant turmoil.
On the converse, another woman, we'll call Guivre, faced a similar situation after 10 years of marriage and three children. However, her husband got the other woman pregnant. Guivre and her husband divorced. However, Guivre forgave her ex and made an effort to have a civil relationship for the sake of their children, and their eventual grandchildren. She lived her life in peace.
Guivre understood the Biblical principal of forgiveness and it's long-term implications: "But if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins."1
Everyone Needs Forgiveness
You might say, what had Guivre done to be forgiven for? Every person has done something wrong at some point in time.2 As humans we are prone to categorize sins, such believing that a little untruth is not as great a sin as murder. However, God says if we are guilty of disobeying one aspect of God's law, we are as guilty as someone who disobeys all aspects.3
This is the reason God tells us to forgive. He says if we won't forgive others, He won't forgive us.1 I don't know about you, but I must forgive because I need God's forgiveness. There are areas of my life where for years I flagrantly sinned by disobeying things I knew God had told me to do. My area of sin had to do with overeating. Yours may be something else. Guivre's may have been something else. However, we all have things we've done against God. It's the reason we need the Savior.4
Once we come to Him and He forgives us, He tells us to go and do the same with others. If we don't, we will be just like Bee, held in a prison we created ourselves until we forgive.5
We always tend to keep something back we think we can't let go of, such as the pain we feel because of hurts we have endured in our lives. We must surrender everything we are holding back, especially if we think the other person doesn't deserve your mercy.
Well, neither did we—deserve it, that is. Wrongs are wrong. We may have not done anything wrong in that situation, but we have done something wrong, no matter how small.
Unforgiveness Stops Destiny
The person you won't forgive because they don't deserve it is holding you back from your destiny. And it's not their fault. It's your fault for not letting go of the hurt. By holding on to the pain, you are paralyzed in your tracks. You will never go forward, you will never get victory until you forgive what the person did.
It was wrong. Yes. This is even more reason to forgive them and move on. Don't let them define who you are. They are not worth it. By not forgiving them, you are allowing the rest of your life to be defined by them. Every day you are allowing the hurt they caused you to grow bigger and bigger until it overwhelms and suffocates you, keeping you from your God-ordained destiny.
First Step Toward Change
The reality is, forgiving someone is hard. That's why God is there to help us through it. If Jesus can forgive His crucifiers for killing Him,6 surely you can forgive one person in order to step into God's change process for your life.
Forgiveness is the first step toward transformation. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I first heard this from Joyce Meyer, though the same thing, substituting "anger" for "unforgiveness," is attributed to Buddha. Both are true because most of the time it is out of anger that we will not forgive.
Forgiveness Sets You Free
Here's the bottom line: Forgiveness sets you free from the prison of uselessness you put yourself in. You want destiny? Forgive. You want purpose? Forgive. You want peace? Forgive.
Here's one simple method I've used to forgive. Hold out your hands to God. Symbolically put the person you need to forgive in your hands. Say, "Father God I forgive this person and I hand him or her to you. They are no longer my concern. Father God, what do you give me in exchange?"
Whatever you sense, feel or hear Him say He gives you, write it down. It will be something helpful on your journey. Many times He gives me peace. Sometimes He simply tells me I am His beloved daughter. At times, He has pulled back the veil in order to give me a short glimpse into my future as long as I am walking in total submission to Him.
And that complete surrender thing? That, my friend, is what it's all about. It's also the hardest part.
I almost forgot. Here's an update on our friends. Bee is still in prison and still miserable. Her ex-husband had been married for 20 years, has four children and a thriving business.
Guivre has a great career she loves, travels with friends and enjoys having her children and grandchildren visit often. She never married again. Her ex-husband never married again either. He stayed in all of his children and grandchildren's lives.
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5 Matthew 18:21-35, especially verses 34-35
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