Forgiving someone has huge health benefits according to the Mayo clinic; it decreases anxiety, lowers blood pressure, creates a stronger immune system, and promotes heart health. Other mental health experts say that when victims can forgive; it plays a role in releasing anger, anxiety and depression. The spiritual benefits of forgiveness; reconnect us with people, increase our ability to love and restores us to God. When we forgive, we are spiritually set free from bondage and our overall health improves.
If forgiving someone has so many benefits instore for us, why do we resist forgiving others and find it so easy to hold a grudge? Ok, maybe that doesn’t describe you, but it certainly describes me. Unfortunately, forgiving others doesn’t come easy to most people. Explaining forgiveness is like trying to explain how to nail a custard pie to the wall. There are tons of books written on it, thousands of sermons preached on it and every time someone forgives, it’s as if a miracle has occurred. Because I can’t explain how to nail a custard pie to the wall, I’ll share my miraculous story of forgiveness with you.
The person who I forgave was my step mother. Let’s give her a name. Let’s call her Paulette. I forgave her because hating her became too heavy to carry. I couldn’t make any progress in life, couldn’t get out of my own way and all that I did or tried to create a happy and healthy life just kept crumbling beneath my feet. It was impossible to forgive her on my own so, I asked Jesus for help. He held my hand, spiritually speaking and walked me through 4 amazing steps to forgive Paulette. As you read through the steps, consider the name of the person who needs your forgiveness.
Step 1 Trust in God (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Holding onto a grudge was my way of forming a weapon to deal with the powerless feelings over Paulette’s abuses. Have you ever experienced an infliction over and over from the same person? The grudges I held onto helped to guard my heart and gave me a safe distance from her. But God got a hold of me and showed me another way. It took a while; eventually God convinced me that I didn’t need a weapon called, Grudge any longer. He shaped my heart with His scriptures and I began to learn that He is my shelter (Psalm 31:21), He is my defender (Deut. 32:4), and His peace would guard my heart and mind (Philippians 6:7). Little did I know these were the first step towards forgiving, Paulette.
Step 2 Acknowledge sin (Romans 3:23)
The weight of my own sin started to become suffocating. I started to feel convicted about the plank in my own eye (Matt 7:5). I felt self-important and self-righteous because I went to church and knew how to treat people better than I had been treated. I did all the right things in life. When I finally understood the gravity and weight of my own sin, it was a shocker! When I measured myself to Paulette, I was a saint. Conversely, when I measured myself to God, I was found lacking! I began to think about all the harm I must have caused others with my sinful nature. Realizing that Jesus’ love for me is not even comprehensible, there was no doubt that he forgave me for the pain I caused other people. His love is so big that there was enough love for me and Paulette.
Step 3 Compassion for others (James 2:16)
My heart began to soften and melt towards Paulette. The weapon I formed called, Grudge was surrendered. Now God had access to show me his compassion for Paulette. I began to see her the way He saw her. She was His creation and it broke His heart that she was deprived of love in her life. He was ready to love on her, but she held tight to her weapons of protection and wouldn’t surrender to His ways. She was one of His children in the sandbox of life throwing sand in people’s faces. I was one of them. I began to pray for Paulette (Matt 5:44).
Step 4 Forgive (Matt 6:14-15)
I felt compassion for Paulette instead of hatred because Jesus softened my heart for her. For the first time, I realized it wasn’t personal. It wasn’t about me. Overwhelming grief overcame me. Grief for her abusive way towards me and I also grieved for the love she had never known. The scripture echoed in my heart, “Lord forgive them (Paulette) they know not that they do (Paraphrased Luke 23:34).” I remember this Holy Spirit moment on, March 25th 1999 at 3:15pm in the master bedroom of a house located in Spring Valley, Las Vegas, NV. There was an exchange; as I forgave Paulette, I was given forgiveness for my sins. I released Paulette from ever having to pay a debt for abusing me and at the very same moment, I felt God’s power forgiving me for my sins. From that moment on, my relationship with God changed. I am a sinner and in desperate need of forgiveness. Who am I to withhold forgiveness? He is a generous God who paid my sin debt with his life. My sin and Paulette’s sin became his nails.
So how do you begin to forgive the person you named? Dr. David Stoop, the author of, Forgiving the Unforgivable said that forgiveness is both a decision and a process. We have to decide to start the process of forgiveness. We make one of two decisions when someone hurts us or when we are offended. We either decide to take a pathway of denial and bitterness to cover up the offense or we choose the pathway of forgiveness and surrender. Are you ready to make the decision today to let Jesus take you by the hand and walk you through forgiveness?
Sheri Page has been married to her husband for 10 years and cherishes their blended family of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has worked in and alongside ministries for over 30 years. She has served many roles with in the walls of a church including, a Women’s Ministry director and assistant to a Care Pastor where she served people who were walking through Baptism, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care and benevolence. Sheri loves to share her curiosity and unique understanding of life with Jesus by her side. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and considers that experience to be the one of the greatest gifts God has given her. More writings from Sheri can be found on her blog: https://thelordsdwellingplace.com/