“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover you were the prisoner.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom
All kinds of things happen to us by all kinds of people. When we can’t let go of a hurt, it’s like being in a cage where the mere memory and feeling about an incident keeps poking us with a sharp stick. Sometimes it’s a whole tree branch ramming us through the bars, other times it’s a pointed twig scraping our bare skin.
If we can’t forgive, we’re trapped with the incident, becoming more and more angry, depressed, bitter, etcetera. The offender most probably isn’t trapped with us, though, they’re likely thinking about other things. But why should we let them of the hook? Forgiveness is not for the offender, it is for us. They don’t even need to know we’ve forgiven them. We can see a therapist to help us stop resenting the transgressor, or talk with someone we trust about it. Asking God to get it off our hearts certainly works, but any method may not be immediate. We have emotional work to do, and that completed task is a transferrable skill.
Perhaps forgiving has brought peace between family members or friends.
I was estranged from my mother for nine years. I forgave in after about five. We both worked on letting resentments go while we were apart. We both prayed, and honestly, the circumstance of us meeting up could only have been arranged by God. I finally have the kind of relationship I required from my mom, and she has in me what she only dreamed of. It doesn’t matter anymore that she hurt me throughout my childhood and into adulthood. I cannot forget, and that protects me, but I forgave. We have a solid relationship now. It was a prison break for both of us. She didn’t know I had spend years forgiving her—that was my deal—for me. I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.
As time passes, memories are as if occurrences happened in movie. We can do this, because it’s something important that God wants us to do. Being bitter in our hearts causes major health issues. You’ve heard that before, I bet. So ask. Just ask. God will attend to the details. Let’s just trust Him to orchestrate the prison break, and when we flee jail, He’s there with the get-away car. The get-away road is lined with trees and wild flowers.
Lynn P. Penner