Moving forward can be so hard at times. For both the person who did the hurting as well as the person that was hurt. It’s so easy to just avoid that person and move on…it’s much harder to face what happened and work through it. It’s so difficult to humble yourself and ask for forgiveness…or to GIVE forgiveness to the person who hurt you.
But the beautiful thing is that God gives us grace after grace. He is always there to forgive us, always there to comfort us and soften our hearts when we need to forgive others. When we have true Christ-centered friendship we should always be working towards making our relationship stronger and closer to our Father.
I once read a quote that said “Forgiveness is giving up your right to punish another for something that they have done wrong.” Forgiveness is grace. It’s having grace on someone that has wronged you or hurt someone dear to you. Forgiveness is hard. It’s saying “I know what you did and I’m choosing to move on from it and love you through it.”
Forgiveness breeds love. It teaches us how be more like Christ.
Unforgiveness, however, breeds bitterness. I know this from personal experience! That bitterness breeds hate. Hate is the exact opposite of what we are called to do as disciples of Christ.
Whatever side you’re on, whether it be that you’re the person who needs to ask for forgiveness or that you’re the one needing to extend grace and forgiveness to someone, know that forgiveness is biblical (Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14-15). It is vital to walking in line with Christ and building community. We will all be hurt by someone from time to time and we will most definitely hurt those around us at some point!
And when that inevitable hurt happens what will you choose to do? Will you choose to wallow in bitterness and anger towards the person who wronged you? Will you choose to immerse yourself in the shame of the pain you caused a friend? Or will you seek Christ for guidance on how to make the situation right?
If Christ can forgive my deepest sin, if He can extend grace to me daily, if He can love me through my faults, shouldn’t I at least be able to forgive someone for hurting me? Shouldn’t my feelings of hurt pale in comparison to His pain on the cross? I guarantee what that person did to you or said about you (or what you said about that person!) is nothing compared to what we all have done to put Him on the cross. And if He laid His life down for me…for YOU…shouldn’t we strive to remember that when others fail us? Surely our hurt lives in the shadow of the biggest sacrifice in history (1 Peter 2:24).
So, to those who have been hurt: It’s okay to allow yourself some time. To distance yourself from that person just for a little while. It’s okay to feel hurt. And it’s also okay to forgive. Forgiving doesn’t make you weak, in fact it makes you stronger! Letting Christ be your center allows for a peace and joy that can heal any pain! Remember that Christ has forgiven YOU. He has shown YOU grace! So, take some time to think and pray. Let go of the bitterness and hate. Allow yourself to trust in Christ. Allow yourself to forgive and to move forward.
And to those who have hurt someone: Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while to forgive, to get over it, and to open up again. Do your part in apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Pray for yourself – that you will work on being a better friend and loving as Christ loves. Pray for the person you hurt – that Christ will soften their heart to forgiveness. And then work to prove you are trustworthy and that you love them.
Am I saying forgiveness will be easy because you are leaning on Christ? No. Am I saying that hurt instantly goes away when you choose to forgive? Absolutely not. What I AM saying is that when we have Christ as an example we should live to glorify Him. When we love a forgiving God we should fix our eyes on Him and He will soften our hearts!
Something I have learned over the years is that sometimes God will bring healing AND restoration to the friendship. But sometimes He will just bring healing. Sometimes your friendship will never be the same and you will go your separate ways. Let God prepare your heart for whatever ending He may bring. All you have to do is obey.