Breaking the Chains of Bitterness
I’m on a little journey with God over the past few months on forgiveness and so I felt it might be good to share some thoughts on this topic. I must admit this has not been an easy journey, but it certainly has been a good one.
The pain caused by someone who has hurt us is debilitating. It robs us of our joy. We live in a place of resentment, sadness and bitterness. We hold onto the anger and allow it to bring forth unhealthy thought patterns. Everytime we see that persons name, we cringe, whenever we remember how they have wronged us, it hurts. If we hear a song, go to a place that holds memories of that person, it hurts. I’ve had some trauma in my life too which left me with post trauma and anxiety. It robs you from so much enjoyment in life.
Holding onto so many grudges caused me such pain and bitterness. In turn, I even steered clear from people who associated or reminded me of these people who hurt me. I guess I felt like I couldn’t trust them either, so I rather chose to avoid them in order to protect myself. The truth is, I wasn’t protecting myself I was only creating more bitterness in my heart. I was only making the list of people and places to avoid longer and it became a vicious circle that was just too overwhelming to stay in the middle of.
This year God has brought me to a place of removing the bitterness in my heart in order to make space for the things He has for me.
I learnt that the bitterness I have been holding onto is suffocating the room God needs in my heart. I learnt that there is freedom in letting go. When we can come to a place of forgiveness, we find freedom from holding onto that hurt and anger. When we choose forgiveness, we find freedom from that.
I’ve learnt three things about forgiveness:
The first is that its not always about them but more about you. It’s not about agreeing with what that person has done to you or accepting that what they have done is ok either. It’s about saying: “I forgive you”, choosing to let go of the hurt and pain it caused you and moving forward into freedom from it. Why hold onto all that pain and bitterness when all it causes you is MORE pain and bitterness? At the end of the day you are torturing yourself, doing this doesn’t make you feel any better about the situation. Holding onto unforgiveness is a sin and it torments you. Choose to let go.
Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
The second thing i learnt about forgiveness is a bit more of a tough one to swallow and I pray you will open your heart to accepting it. Whether tough or not, IT’S TRUTH. Jesus died for all of our sins, everyone, the sins of the whole world. He died for the liars, the thieves, the rapists and even the murderers too. He died for that best friend that betrayed you, He died for that guy who cheated on you, He died for that imperfect parent who hurt you. He died for everyone, to save us from our sins. Who are we not to forgive those that Christ chose to forgive and sacrifice His life for? This does not mean that it makes their actions ok, it also does not mean that it frees them from the consequences of their sin either, but it does free you from your own sin in this area. You see when we hold onto grudges, we fall into sin ourselves, when we don’t obey God’s greatest commandment to love one another as He has loved us – we are sinning. Choose to forgive and let go.
“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean we now need to become “besties”, but we can choose to see them through God’s eyes and ask God to reveal that to us. We can, however, love them from a distance while guarding our hearts.
The third and most difficult thing I learnt is how important it is to forgive yourself. I am not perfect, in fact far from it. I have made many mistakes in my life and I have struggled to free myself from the guilt and shame. What we don’t realise when we hold onto guilt and shame is that we are actually holding a grudge against ourselves. We repent and ask God for forgiveness but then we don’t give ourselves the same grace that God has given us. This would seem like quite an insult to God for us not to love ourselves, when He created us in His image. God uses our mistakes and turns them into a great lesson, it’s through our mistakes that we learn the power of what Jesus has done on the cross for us and the depth of His love for us, by the grace and mercy shown to us by Him.
Mark 12:31 The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made and before we were even born, He knew all the ways that we would mess up. He also knew exactly how He would help us come back from those mistakes and turn the learning experience into something good to build His Kingdom. God forgave us, we should forgive ourselves and show ourselves the same grace He has shown us.
Forgiveness is a choice, it starts with choosing to live in forgiveness and choosing it everyday. When you choose to live in forgiveness, you are choosing freedom. Freedom from the bondage this hurt and pain or guilt and shame has held us captive in. I’ve started practicing this choice as and when incidences happen and I must say the freedom from new pain and bitterness entering my life is such a release. Old experiences will take some layers to peel off as and when God reveals this to me but just so glad I am on this journey and feeling the healing daily. It’s not always easy, but as the saying goes:- practice makes perfect. It’s a process of choosing to constantly change your mindset and choosing to love the way He loves, but it’s easier as you get deeper into having an attitude of forgiveness, grace and love.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Choose to let go!