Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends. (Proverbs 17:9 NLT)
Why is it so difficult to let go of the hurts inflicted upon us? Being hurt by the people we love, most especially our mates, can be hard to overcome. But why is that? Could it be just a matter of acting out our natural impulse to protect ourselves, or is it a need for retaliation? Is it a matter of withholding forgiveness to use as a power tool?
There is a part of our natural humanness that wants to protect ourselves from future hurts and pains. Think of falling off a horse. It is painful and disturbing. The memory of such an incident may cause you to never want to get on another horse as long as you live. However, what is typically said? “You have to get back on the horse, immediately.” Why is that? If you don’t, you will have the opportunity for the memory to linger; and as you dwell on it, the fear of it grows more intense. The same thing is true in our relationships. When we are hurt, unless we freely forgive quickly, we have a tendency to dwell on it giving the devil a foothold and causing a rift.
Focusing on an offense imprisons us. It invades our thought life; and if we are not careful, we will start planning our vengeance. It allows the enemy (Satan) to convince us that we have power over the offender by not forgiving. The fact is, we couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, it’s difficult to understand, but the inability to forgive does not affect the offender as much as it affects us. We are the ones who suffer. It tears us up on the inside. Consider the following quote: “The failure to forgive fosters debilitating attitudes of resentment and rage. Many research studies show significant correlation between resentment and anger and the reduction of the efficiency of the immune system–the effect of which is to increase our vulnerability to illnesses ranging from the common cold to AIDS. Other people, unforgiven, literally make us sick” (Robert Caldwell, The Difficult and Compelling Art of Forgiving).
The sad fact is that we, ourselves, hold the key to the prison door. It’s a decision we must make to let the offense go and seek God for healing; and it’s not to say that the feelings will just dissipate into the atmosphere. It may take time, but we still must remind ourselves that the decision has already been made to let it go.
Because we have been born again, we no longer have to rely on our “natural humanness” to muster up the courage to let go of a grudge we may be holding against our beloved. Remember that “you belong to God, my dear children…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world “(1 John 4:4, NLT). God’s Spirit empowers us to do the “unnatural” thing.
Let’s break free from the prison of grudge holding. Let’s always be willing to give to our mates the same thing God gives to us – unlimited forgiveness. Let’s allow our love to prosper by forgiving our spouses faults. Besides, we probably have many more than they do. (Pam)