|“Not sure why it hurts more and so much harder to move on when you have been hurt by someone of the body of Christ. For me it has been so many years and yet I still find that the situation I have encountered continues to hold me back. Not sure if I have fully forgiven but my question is how do you completely let go and move on?”|
As I looked at the question, How do you completely let go and move on? I realized that many in the body of Christ may be in the same place over and over again in their life because of an inability to let go and move on.
I remember watching a movie called What Dreams May Come2 in which a couple tragically lose their two children and try to move on through the grief and pain. When the husband dies, the wife reaches a point where she can’t go on living without the three most important people in her life and she commits suicide. Although the movie is more about the character of the husband, I learned something of value in the character of the wife; she wasn’t able to let go and move on because she was in a place of sorrow, pain and sadness. And in the end, she felt compelled to end her life but even in death there was no escape, she went to a place of sorrow, pain and sadness.
I believe this is true for those of us who struggle with forgiveness; we are stuck in a place of sorrow, pain and sadness.
I believe that we assign a value to the offense when we experience hurt, we give value to the pain we feel. In doing this, we devalue the life of anyone who offends us. Earlier this week, I read a post that the author asks the question, “How do I forgive when there's no apology?”3 From the responses I read, many still carry around the hurts they experienced years ago.
Letting go is difficult but it’s not impossible.
There is a passage in scripture which I believe liberated me. Jesus says:
“If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”4
Jesus also said,
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”5
I believe letting go is difficult because I bind the sins committed against me to my life.
Although I didn’t physically encase myself in a cocoon, I often created an emotional cocoon-like barrier around myself which I subconsciously believed would serve as a protective barrier from further pain. In doing so, I bound myself to that sin, chaining my life to that hurt and pain and throwing away the key.
Could it be that I’m taking on the nature of the thing which has caused me hurt and pain?
When I am hurt, I experience many emotions in response, but one emotion I experience is anger; I want to retaliate. This is my initial defense against emotional and physical attack. The anger may subside but eventually, as I replay the event over in my mind, those emotions begin to resurface. This is my process of encasing myself in a cocoon; I wrap myself again and again in this protective barrier.
But it isn’t just a protective barrier, it’s an emotional prison.
To become a butterfly, the caterpillar must develop and emerge from the cocoon.
But how do I let go and move on?
As I’ve said before (in the three-part post called Forgive Them6), we are commanded to forgive which is no different than our command to love. We don’t love others based on their merit; we cannot forgive others based on merit. What I mean by this is that I approached forgiveness in much the same way the judicial process operates:
- I charged someone with an offense
- I prosecuted the offender
- I sentenced the offender
- I punished the offender
So God commands me to forgive. Why?
Believe it or not, we are quite ignorant when it comes to doing what’s right. This is why Jesus said as He hung on the cross:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”7
People have different motivations for saying and doing things that offend and hurt others, but the truth is they don’t have a clue about what they’re doing. I don’t mean to say that people aren’t aware of the things they do, but they are unaware of how to please God with they’re life. If they truly understood how to please God, they would be saddened by those hurtful words and actions they commit.
When Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who crucified Him, He was including me as well. Although I wasn’t physically there, I was a part of the cabal of sinners. There was a time when I really didn't know what I was doing. I didn't have a clue, although I thought I did because in my mind, I was soooo cool. In reality, I was screwing up my life big time. That lifestyle and belief has changed now. I believe because the Holy Spirit lives within me, to deny knowledge of my sin now would be lying.
In discussing forgiveness, Jesus gave clarity so that we would have no confusion on the question of Why does God commands me to forgive?
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”8
This helped me recognize the need to maintain a spiritual balance in my life. By not forgiving others, I become unbalanced in my life. I find myself increasingly encasing myself in the emotional cocoon of sorrow, pain and sadness.
The Hebrew word for forget is shakach (shaw-kakh’ or shaw-kay’-akh), which means, to mislay. In other words, to forget is to become so mentally oblivious of something due to the absence its memory or attention. Forgetting is putting something down and having a mindset that says, “I no longer assign a value to this memory”, so that I’m not aware of it as I emerge from my emotional cocoon. I do this by recognizing that I’ve been forgiven by God along with all the other folks in the cabal of sinners; including the person who offended me.
God then, doesn’t ask me to forgive them, He commands me to forgive them. I am compelled to obey God if my desire is to please Him in my life because:
"...to obey is better than sacrifice..."9
One of my blogger friends (Sarah) discussed giving herself permission to be free:
|"At first my words were just that....words. But then I noticed a change inside....a shift....a different feel that hadn't been there before. I started believing in the power of those words...accepting their truth....and soon coming to realize that just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz - I had always had the power to get what I wanted....a power I had never realized before - the power to give myself what no one else could - the permission....the sanction.....to walk free."10|
I believe in order to let go and move on, I must begin to say the words; I forgive you, when someone offends me. I may not believe this at first, I may even want to repeat the judicial process I’ve gone through before and get back into my emotional cocoon but as I continue along this path, I discover that I begin to accept the truth. I eventually realize that I no longer value that offense because I’ve forgiven them and I’ve mislaid the memory of the offense; I can no longer recall it.
Speak the words of forgiveness and emerge from your cocoon.
I've been hurt by others and I've also injured others. I've sought out those I've injured and when possible, I've acknowledged my sin and asked for forgiveness. I've not been forgiven by everyone I've injured but I am truly sorry for the pain, sadness and hurt I've caused. I ask you to hear my confession of forgiveness. I no longer want to bind the pain in my life, I no longer want to wrap myself in an emotional cocoon, I no longer want to prosecute and punish others, I forgive them. I don't need them to say anything to appease me; they may never feel the need. In my heart, mind and spirit, I acknowledge that they don't know what they did. I'm not just praying for myself Father God, I plead for the release of those who've been hurt by others, hurt in the church, hurt by churchgoers, and hurt by those who do not recognize you. I speak the word of freedom in their life that they may emerge from the emotional cocoon which has held them prisoner. Thank you Father for the power to heal our lives. Amen.
- Finding Forgiveness, by Peculiar Person, August 6, 2010
- What Dreams May Come, written by Richard Matheson (novel) and Ronald Bass (screenplay), October 2, 1998, for Polygram Filmed Entertainment
- How do I forgive when there's no apology?, by Elizabeth Esther, August 2, 2010
- John 20:23, NASB
- Matthew 16:19, NASB
- Forgive Them, by MTJ, April 12-14, 2010
- Luke 23:34, NIV
- Matthew 6:14, NIV
- 1 Samuel 15:22, NASB
- Giving Permission, by Sarah, August 6, 2010
- Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- Finding Forgiveness, by Peculiar Person, written for the blog, Along A Narrow Way, August 6, 2010
- What Dreams May Come, Information source Internet Movie Database (imdb.com)
- How do I forgive when there's no apology?, by Elizabeth Esther, written for the blog, Elizabeth Esther, August 2, 2010
- Forgive Them, by MTJ, written for the blog, My Thought-filled Journey, April 12-14, 2010
- Giving Permission, by Sarah, written for the blog, Writing, August 6, 2010