Week 2: Internal Relational Skills
DAY 11: Healing and Forgiveness
I don’t think anyone in the church would dispute that God extended us great forgiveness. The truth is, we so understand how amazing His forgiveness is, given what we’ve done, we have this internal guilt when we struggle with our part: forgiving others. We say we forgive those who hurt us, but then when we still feel hurt we, and others for that matter, question whether we have truly forgiven. I would like to propose, especially since forgiveness is a choice, that when we still feel the wounds of those we have chosen to forgive, it is more a matter of your personal healing that is the issue. Let me illustrate with a physical wound. Say someone broke your arm. You forgive them for doing this, but your arm still hurts because it still needs to go through the healing process. Going to the doctor, casting it, taking pain pills, elevating it and getting help to lift things would not be an indicator that you have not forgiven the person who broke your arm. It would indicate that you are taking measures to heal. Some choose to forgive a person for a deep emotional wounding, but because it hurt them so much, they fear pursuing inner healing because they don’t want to feel the pain. Again, think of the path this would take you if you did not pursue healing for your arm! The problem is, with emotional wounds, this works for a season, but because you carry the wound inside, you are at risk of someone at some point brushing up against that wound. It was not their intention to hurt you, but even if what they did is purely innocent, we interpret it through the wound. I have an example of this I often give to others. When my husband and I were newlyweds, he interrupted me. I tore into him! He was shocked! As we processed my intense reaction to his interruption, I realized that the emotion I felt was not purely for his interruption only, but built up emotion from all those in my past who had not listened to me. I realized how unfair this was to him. His infraction deserved a “Honey, you just interrupted me. Could you please let me finish?” My reaction didn’t match the offense which is a good clue there might be some forgiveness and working through of past issues needed. This was right about the time I had forgiven my father, so it wasn’t as much about “I didn’t really forgive” as it was my need for continued healing. I only needed to reaffirm, “I have forgiven him for that” and then turning to God for further inner healing. We talk about situations like that being a “reveal to heal” moment. The enemy would have you believe it is hopeless and never going to get better, but the truth is some wounds in our souls and spirits need the same kind of time and TLC that physical wounds need and sometimes more. It is a process. When an emotional wound surfaces, assess the situation. Have you forgiven the person? Have you let them off your hook and put them on God’s? (He knows better whether they themselves need healed, instructed, or disciplined for their actions or all of the above and He is much better at it than we are!) If you realize you have not really forgiven the person, do so! Carrying around unforgiveness is a poison to you not to them! It helps me to meditate on how I want people to handle my offenses. The Word is clear, He will forgive me in the manner I forgive others. That’s motivating! It is also motivating to know it actually helps in my healing process to forgive. If an emotional wound resurfaces, and I believe I have forgiven that person, I just reaffirm that they are forgiven and I turn to the Lord for more healing. I resist the lies of the enemy causing me to doubt that I have forgiven or trying to get me to believe God hasn’t truly healed me or that I am somehow permanently flawed! Nope! The truth is, I have another opportunity to get even more healed and whole! It is okay if that takes time. It is also okay if you need others to help you in this. Seek the counsel of a godly mentor or friend, a Christian counselor, your pastor, or inner healing ministry. Sometimes it is the human interaction with a safe, loving person that is the necessary healing agent of God. We are not meant to “go it alone” in many areas of our lives.
Declare over yourself, “I am on a healing and hopeful journey to wholeness. I do not believe the enemy’s attempt to discourage me. It is normal for healing to take time. Just like I would not expect a broken arm to heal overnight (apart from God’s miraculous touch) nor do I expect inner healing to be that quick. I will give myself and God every opportunity to heal. I will persevere in this healing so that my wounds do not hinder my relationships. He is my healer, my comforter, my deliverer, and my salvation. He is sometimes these very things through other people so I receive His healing through His people when He directs me to do so.”