We are Set Free When We Forgive Others
For a long time, I struggled with having negative thoughts and being critical towards other people. Embracing a more positive outlook and extending grace to others more readily was what I longed for. The breakthrough finally came and my attitude changed.
Vengeance toward My Father
I love my father, who passed away 15 years ago. Our culture ingrained in me the duty of honoring our elders. Initially, my love for my father was mainly due to my deep Chinese roots rather than respect or affection for him. Deep down, I had a hard time forgiving his harsh treatment of my mom, my siblings and me. For most of my adult life, I resented his many irresponsible behaviors and I retaliated with hostile words and demeaning comments to him whenever I could. Every time I showed my disrespect to him, overwhelming guilt set in. I recognized that was wrong and I was supposed to be a “mature” loving Christian.
My frequent spurts of anger and bad temper also troubled me. It seemed like a tank filled with bitterness was bottled inside me and it constantly stirred up negative thoughts and punitive words. It reminded me of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 12:34:
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.
I examined myself and asked what was overflowing from my heart? It was bitterness, jealousy, revenge, not compassion, gratitude, contentment and love. I reflected on my root issues. One recurring thought kept surfacing. Perhaps I needed to forgive my father, reverse the cycle of hurt and bless other people.
That decision drained away the filthy, stale and turbid water from the tank within my heart. I prayed to God and sought His forgiveness over my own iniquities. I asked Him to refill my heart with peace that surpasses understanding and He did. He placed a stream that flows freely within and it never runs dry.
When I chose to forgive my dad, I set the prisoner free. The prisoner was me. Do you have someone in your life that you need to forgive?
Here are some motivations and techniques that enabled me to do it:
- Dig it up
- When brokenness meets healing
- Detach and Conquer
Consider them and let me know if you have other thoughts.
Dig it Up
I searched deep within my heart to identify the wounds in the battleground of my soul. One by one, I dug them up and processed them with care and intention. This usually involved recalling the incident, visually looking the perpetrator in the eye and asking myself how this incident hurt me. Did it bring shame, anger, fear, anguish, physical or mental abuse or intimidation? As these deep feelings emerged, something powerful happened.
When Brokenness Meets Healing
Often times, visiting the scene of a past encounter is therapeutic. Through my imaginary world, I met eye-to-eye with my enemy or the person who brought hurt to me. I could see through the brokenness and pain deep within the soul of that person himself/herself. This was the case with my dad and the other people I held grudges against. Out of their own brokenness, they spoke or acted ruthlessly, harshly or unkindly. By then, it was not difficult for me to pray for them so that they could experience healing of their own pain and suffering. Or, perhaps, it was I that over-reacted at what was said or done due to my own distorted self-image. In either case, I would call out to the Almighty for He is compassionate and gentle.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
Detach and Conquer
For someone who experienced devastating, horrendous incidents, the psychological trauma may be so deep that professional help is needed for them to recover from the shock before the healing process can begin. Perhaps time can also alleviate the level of intensity of the trauma. Our mind is the most complicated engine that reflects the infinite wisdom of its designer. The master designer endows us with the power to choose. When we choose to forgive, our goal is not about forgetting what has happened. Instead, we focus on detaching any ill-feelings from the excruciating memories. The end result is that the memory of the incident remains and yet, we no longer suffer stomach knots or cold chills along our spine.
Are you ready to set yourself free by forgiving others? Who do you need to forgive? I would love to pray for you if you are struggling with this decision. Let me know how I can pray for you by leaving me your comment.