How to Be More Forgiving This Year
By Drenda Keesee
I want to reflect on a topic that I believe everyone has struggled with—hurt.
Hurt is something we’re often reminded of during the holidays due to get-togethers with extended family and friends we haven’t seen in a while. Hurt can reveal itself in many ways: unforgiveness, heartbreak, disappointment, depression, anger, and even disgust!
Hurt feelings destroy so many relationships. We all do and say things that often unintentionally hurt one another. And in the course of life and relationships, our own feelings get hurt. Most of these slights and misunderstandings are just that, misunderstandings. There is the occasional intentional offensive action, but much of the time, it’s unintentional. While we can’t change this in others, we can work on our relationships and especially ourselves, and here’s how…
FORGIVENESS AND PRIDE
After years of working with people and observing my shortcomings, I’ve come to the conclusion that our egos (or may I say our pride) get in the way of relationships. We’re all looking for others to make us feel special, valued, and even exceptional; and when others fail to do what we need, we get our feelings hurt. We retreat, sulk, or punish the other person with our withdrawal. I’ve watched friendships destroyed, marriages broken, families devastated, businesses fail, and, worse, God’s Kingdom hindered, because we bruise easily, and our pride keeps us from mending the hurts.
The enemy is looking for an open door in all of our lives. Getting our feelings hurt and harboring an offense over it is the number one way I know he enters lives—next to blatant disobedience or rebellion.
I want to encourage you today; if people have hurt you in the past, God wants to heal you from ALL of those emotional wounds.
Read below for three steps on how to start this year off with a fresh start!
What should we do when we get hurt?
Pray and ask God to help you sort through your hurt. Hurt usually leads to offense, then anger, and then paybacks through disloyalty and betrayal. At which phase of the pathway are you? God always helps us see things through His eyes. It minimizes the offense and helps us understand our lack of innocence in the situation.
I once saw a Facebook post where a Christian was calling out another Christian for saying some offensive things and for judging a situation unfairly and being insensitive. Of course, people began to pile on offenses, insults, and judgments and suggested paybacks to justify their friend’s hurt. It was clear that they were all guilty of the very thing that they had accused the other person of doing in the first place.
Prayer helps us see things as they are, not as we justify ourselves to “feel.” It’s much easier to forgive others when we realize just how much forgiveness we need. Pray and then choose to forgive just as God chose to forgive us through Jesus.
If there was one primary step to moving forward in life, it would have to be forgiveness. It’s easy to say but harder to do. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling; it’s a choice.
When our children were smaller and we were struggling financially in the old farmhouse, the pressure caused a lot of tension in our marriage. I remember one morning Gary and I had a disagreement about something, and I went huffing and puffing in anger up the stairs to our bedroom. It’s funny looking back; I don’t even remember what it was about. I was pregnant at that time, which certainly didn’t help!
Shortly after, our six–year–old daughter came trotting through the door. She, unfortunately, had witnessed the whole scene play out. I sat up in bed to greet her, and she said in her sweet little voice, “Mommy, are you going to forgive Daddy?”
I thought, “Not that! Why did she ask that?”
I softened somewhat and replied, “In a little bit, sweetheart.”
She held up a Bible she had carried upstairs with her and handed it to me. “I think you need to read this,” she said. Then, she turned around and disappeared to play. Talk about conviction!
I tried to rationalize putting off forgiving him, but she was right. God had forgiven me too many times for me to hold on to a grudge for any length of time. God’s forgiveness was instant, and mine should be too. I opened my Bible and read. It wasn’t long before I was downstairs apologizing to the whole family. God has forgiven us for so much, so when we take it into perspective, how can we not forgive each other?
FORGIVENESS ISN’T JUST FOR THEM, IT’S FOR US
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13, NIV).
We need to forgive!
Some people nurse hurts and wounds for years, and anytime they begin to see success, the enemy pulls them back into fear and discouragement and causes them to lose the joy of their salvation. When we hold on to emotional disappointments, offense, heartbreak, and bitterness toward others, we only end up hurting ourselves!
“Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Forgiveness is different than compromise. We cannot compromise what God says about a subject to truly “love” someone. We love the person, and we can embrace a person but not embrace the sin as acceptable.
Once we choose to forgive by faith in the work of Jesus, now we have the right mind and heart toward another person. If we need to talk this situation out, then the Holy Spirit will show us the right timing.
Some situations are better left unspoken—when we have harbored something in our hearts, we can deal with God alone. There are also times we must go and talk through situations with others in a true spirit of humility and desire for reconciliation. We must hear how and when to do this from the Holy Spirit. Regardless of how other people may get offended or react in life, we can stay free from offense if we honor God and the people He made and loves. The Golden Rule to “do unto others the way you would want them to do unto you” is still golden.
3. Develop a Plan of Restoration.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
When we hold on to hurt, it hinders us from fulfilling our God-given destinies.
Jesus wants you to be free from those tormenting emotions. He already paid the price for your emotional healing; all you have to do is receive it!
When we extend forgiveness to others, it helps us receive it for ourselves. We wipe the record clean by giving people to God, as their Judge and Savior, and letting Him choose what is best; and it makes it a little easier to do the same thing for ourselves.
Just like love is a choice, forgiveness is a choice.
Because God loved us, He gave Jesus to die for our sins so we could be freed from the sins of yesterday and live free today.
WHAT ARE YOU REHEARSING?
After you choose to forgive, you have to choose to forget.
Our minds remember even when we’ve made the choice to forgive.
You can choose to forget by no longer rehearsing what happened. You can stop the rewind and the playback. You can stop entertaining the thoughts, dwelling on them, and allowing the hurt or anger to be rekindled emotionally or revisited mentally. When thoughts or wounds try to stir you up again, you can remind yourself that you already chose to forgive, and it’s now under the blood of Christ. You can refuse to keep retrying the case.
We are released from our wounds and offenses when we stand before Jesus with our own sin before us, and He calls us innocent and free to go as He took our punishment for us.
So we forgive as we’ve been forgiven, and we make the choice to not create our own emotional or mental prisons by dwelling on what happened or what was done to us.
Forgiveness is an act of faith. We forgive ourselves, and others, by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. And we make the choice to forget.
Pray this prayer with me today: God, I give you my heartbreak, my disappointed expectations, and everything I have held against the people around me. I love you, and I cast my cares on you. Heal my heart and renew my joy. Amen!
Choose to forgive today, and let God heal you this year. You have been set free!
Are you looking for a good church? Be sure and listen on Saturday evening or catch the 3 services on Sunday for Faith Life Church!
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Tune in for their weekly messages here. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.