Fear of Forgiveness

I'll never forget the day I experienced the wholeness and completeness of God's forgiveness. It was the morning after a night filled with tears and freshly remembered memories from the past. But despite the pain the night before, all I felt the next morning was a deep sense of peace. God spoke to my heart that day: "You've already forgiven and been forgiven." This new information changed nothing. It was God's personal message of "It is finished" in my own life. There is a power in forgiveness.

There are six false beliefs we need to face in order to let go of our fear of forgiveness and experience the true freedom and power of forgiveness.

We believe that forgiving someone means that what they did is okay.

Many of us falsely believe that forgiving someone means accepting what someone did to us and pretending that it didn't hurt us. But forgiveness means letting go of the pain and the bitterness we feel so that we can heal from the very real hurts of the offence. Forgiveness allows us to let go of the pain, not forget what someone did.

We believe that forgiveness is between the wounded and the offender.

We often fear forgiving someone because we think it means we need to face our offender and become vulnerable with our hurts. In reality, forgiveness should be between us and God. It does not need to involve the other person. The act of forgiveness means laying our hurts down before God, letting go of our own need for control and justice, and giving the power over to God as the ultimate judge.

We believe that forgiveness means that the relationship is automatically restored.

Whereas forgiveness is an act between us and God, restoration is an optional component that involves the wounded and the offender. Restoration, or reconciliation, of a relationship involves both people making things right. If you forgive someone who is unrepentant and unwilling to admit to their wrongdoing, you cannot experience reconciliation. You can still forgive someone who is unwilling to make things right--that is all you are responsible for doing.

We believe that forgiveness gives our power to the other person.

As the famous quote by Marianne Williamson says, "Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die." Unforgiveness allows the other person to have control over us and our emotions. Forgiveness releases that power and allows us to decide to move forward.

We believe that forgiveness is a one-time deal.

Especially as Christians, we think that we should only have to forgive a person once, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the same person can hurt us over and over again. Or sometimes the same hurt resurfaces after time. In either circumstance, we are responsible to forgive again and again, as long as necessary. If we think that forgiveness only needs to happen once, we may start slipping back into resentment and bitterness when those negative emotions arise.

We believe that the process of forgiveness is always the same, no matter the depth of hurt.

One of the greatest things I ever learned about forgiveness is that we need to forgive the offender at the same depth of hurt as the offence. A surface sting can likely be forgiven on a surface level, but a more serious emotional wound needs to be forgiven at a deeper level. In order to really experience the power of forgiveness, we need to allow ourselves to be fully vulnerable with God, feeling the full weight and depth of our hurt and anger and bitterness, and then release it to Him.

There is power in forgiveness.

If we want to truly live freely and experience the full life that God has for us, we need to let go of our fear of forgiveness and embrace the power that comes with forgiving those who have hurt us.