A woman celebrating her sixtieth wedding anniversary was asked about her secret to a long marriage. “In the beginning, I made a list of ten things I would automatically forgive him for.”
When asked for the list, she remarked, “I never made it. But every time he did something that irritated me, I said, ‘It’s on the list.’”
This woman’s philosophy would work well in any relationship. It reminds me of instructions the Apostle Paul gave us in what is commonly known as the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV). Right in the middle of the passage, he wrote that love, “Keeps no record of wrongs.” Click To Tweet
I’ve been a wife for almost 29 years. I guarantee there have been times my words and actions pained my husband. As a mother, I wonder how often I bruised my children’s tender feelings or falsely accused them. Forgetting how I’ve offended someone else is easy. Forgetting what was done to me is not Click To Tweet I want family and friends to forgive and forget any pain I’ve caused them, and they want the same from me.
Carrying offenses gets heavy, while resolving to forgive them, lightens our load.
Recalled offenses never stand in isolation: they’re attached to the people in our lives. Giving free reign to past hurts endangers our well-being. To live like God calls us to, we need to build healthy relationships where we forgive one another. If we don’t forgive and forget, offenses become like stones weighing us down. Then we’re tempted to cast them back, causing even more damage. Click To Tweet
Is it time to give someone who’s hurt you another chance? Maybe the Lord is waiting for you to make the first move. If we feel like we’re always the one to start mending, remember how God first loved us by sending Jesus to die for our sins. (John 3:16) And because of the great mercy and love God has given to us, we can afford to forgive and forget what others said or did to us.
This sounds great, but isn’t always easy. I find painful memories come at me like a swarm of gnats. Is that my fault? Not necessarily, but in the same way you swat at a bug the minute it’s in your space, you need to take action against these thoughts.
In real life, gnats are weak, but if you ignore them, they’ll multiply and make you miserable. No one stands motionless when a swarm of insects invades: in the same way, don’t let painful remembrances assault you. Click To Tweet
If you have these pesky insects, call pest control. To get rid of recurring voices in your head, retrain your brain with scripture.
- Recognize that all people hurt people. (Romans 3:23)
- Be gentle, patient, and filled with humility. (Ephesians 4:2)
- Love people the way you want to be loved, even when you disagree. (Matthew 22:37-39)
- Know we will be judged in the same way we judge. (Matthew 7:1)
- Do not seek to repay anyone for their wrongdoing. (Romans 12: 17-21)
Deal quickly with bitter thoughts. I can’t forget and move on if I choose to mentally replay insults done to me. Holding up my hand and saying, “Nope, not today,” helps. This physical action reminds me that I’m not going there. What’s done is done and I won’t let the offense gain control of my emotions.
“Forgiving is the pathway to forgetting,” writes John Bevere, author of The Bait of Satan. Bevere goes on to tell how offenses divide and keep us from fully using our gifts for the Lord. Two declarations, among others, he asks readers to adopt are:
- I will not be held prisoner by the enemy through my own unwillingness to rid my heart of anger and unforgiveness and by spewing out bitter waters rather than pure.
- Holy Spirit, keep me from hurt, deceit, and distortion because of darkened understanding and wrong conclusions about the intent of others to wrong me.
You may have been grievously wronged. I’m not asking you to be silent or disregard the pain you’ve lived through. All wrongs don’t carry the same weight. I wrote about when you shouldn’t forget in an article titled Forgive and Forget? Today, I’ve written about where you can lighten your load. I encourage you to replace your ruminating with prayers of thanksgiving: thankfulness for the way God forgives you and for the people he’s placed in your life.
1 Peter 3:8-9, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
Have you ever set a visual reminder before you to help retrain your brain?
What is your favorite Bible verse about forgiving others?
You might also find the following Bible reading plans, available for free on the YouVersion app, helpful:
20 Days of Relational Health:
Our hearts crave deep, lasting connections–to know we are loved and belong. This Bible reading plan will help you grow in your relationships as you learn to love others well, speak and live in truth, and set the healthy boundaries that will allow your relationships to thrive.
Find it HERE.
30 Days of Emotional Health:
God doesn’t want us feeling perpetually stressed or defeated, nor does He want us enslaved to hurts from our past. This 30-day reading plan will help you draw closer to Him each day and anchor yourself in the life-giving truths He preserved for us in Scripture.
Find it HERE.
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