The Weight of it All

We all like to minimize the grudges we carry. We rationalize their weight. But they add up fast and they bog us down. Eventually we are no longer able to walk freely; each bag of resentment adds to the other bags we are carrying, and it’s not long until we can hardly move. On Ask God we went out on the streets and had a little fun to make a point. Watch the clip and think about how you might be holding yourself back from being all you can be. Got some baggage you’d like to be rid of once and for all? You can begin to drop it, starting today. Click on the video below to watch the “Take a Load Off Clip” Now!

What Forgiveness is Not

Forgiveness is NOT a feeling we have; rather, it’s a

choice we make. It may be emotional, it may very well

come with tears, but in the end it is a mental choice.

We resolve to not hold on to the wrongs people do to

us. We wake up and make that decision; in the end it

has little to do with how we feel.

Forgiveness is NOT saying what the person did was

okay. Forgiveness does not require you to perform

mental gymnastic until you can call what is wrong

“right.” What happened to you might have been terrible

and selfish--Christianity doesn’t require you to call it

“good,” that would be a lie. What you’re saying is,

“Hey, I know what you did to me was wrong, but

even though it really hurt me, I release you (and myself)

from the need for the emotional debt to be repaid.”

Forgiveness is NOT simply forgetting the offence. This is often misunderstood. We can’t force ourselves to forget things by mere willpower--our brains just don’t work that way. On the other hand, we can choose to stop remembering. When we truly let things go, when we stop secretly playing with the offence in our heads, then the hurt loses power over us. Eventually, the memory becomes dim—not because we’ve blocked it out but because we’ve let it go. When it gets to that point, a bad incident has no emotional power on us, just like we don’t think about the physical garbage we throw away in life. We put that junk by the side of the road and don’t think of it again and, while we may note that we’ve thrown it away, we don’t care about it anymore, because it’s gone. When God helps us deeply forgive, we can see the person who has hurt us and have no emotional baggage from the past--as if it didn’t happen, even though we may or may not immediately forget the events in our minds.

Forgiveness does NOT release the person from all the moral responsibilities they have for their actions. Good or bad, there are consequences for every action and every choice. Some mistakes may require civil punishment that is out of our control. All wrongs will require the person to get things right with God. Forgiveness is letting God deal with the person for their actions as we focus on our own healing.

So How Do I Do it?

So, do you want to get rid of all this garbage in your life? Do you want to be free? Forgiveness is the key.

Step 1) Be honest with yourself. Start today by asking God to bring up an event in your heart to deal with--a memory or issue you finally wish to be free from.

Step 2) Think about the pain this memory has caused you over the years. It’s okay to feel it; in fact, it’s good to bring those feelings to the surface in order to get rid of them.

Step 3) Give this pain to God. Some people will imagine placing the hurt into the hands of Christ, or at the foot of the Cross, or some other activity. You may picture Jesus standing with you in the situation, taking the pain along with you and radiating love and grace to you so you can get through the encounter. Say a prayer in your own words like: “God, this is such a big pain, and I don’t like it; I can’t carry it anymore. I trust you can handle it, and I need to let this go. Here—take it.” He will, if you let him.

Step 4) Ask God to replace the pain caused by the offense. Want to get close to God? Open up your broken heart to him as much as you can.

Step 5) Repeat this process again and again and again. It’s hard to give up the things we love, and honestly, a lot of us secretly love the chip on our shoulder. Sometimes Christ might take a grudge away split-seconds after we give it to him. Then we find ourselves playing with it in our mind again. Ooops! Old habits die hard. If you find yourself thinking about the time you were hurt, remind yourself that you want to be free and that you have chosen to let go. Ask God for help and give it to him once again. Continue this practice over and over; soon you will find you have gone longer and longer without taking it back. Good news: Eventually the memory won’t bother to come back and haunt you. You’ll be completely free and closer to God!

On Ask God we are always grateful when people open their hearts and ask tough questions. God says, “If you seek me, you will find me.” The idea of seeking implies a search for the unknown--a quest, so to speak. Our original question asked, “Why do I have to forgive?”  I hope the answers we have given can help you see that:

a) We forgive so we can get rid of our deepest pain. 

b) We forgive so we can live free lives and not be bogged down. 

c) We forgive so God can meet us in our deepest hurts and pains and be intimate with us.

If these answers sound good to you, we ask our own question: What are you waiting for? Start forgiving today.

Life has questions. God has answers. Ask God.

*The pains people cause us can sometimes be so deep we need others to help us in this process. Getting involved in a healthy local church with ministry care might be needed for those in deep anguish. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a Christian counselor to help you on your path to healing. May Christ guide you on your path to wholeness.

Host: Lori Carrell, Ph.D                        


More Clips:Watch Forgiveness Now!
Bible Reference:Forgiveness QR Guide
Quotes: Forgiveness Quotes
Recources: Forgiveness Links
Guides: Continue the Conversation!

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Why Do I Have to Forgive?

Let’s be honest, this is an issue we all struggle with. It’s so easy to hold a grudge, to hide resentment in our hearts, or even to secretly plot revenge on the people who have hurt us. Some of us can replay cruel playground conversations word for word years later. In all honesty, many of us will be crippled by lifelong pains if we don’t learn to let them go.

The hurts we experience in life are very real, and maybe the people who have injured us don’t deserve to be pardoned, but Christians are called to live a life marked by forgiveness. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what forgiveness actually is, so let’s try to get a handle on this amazing, powerful action and see how it can actually empower us in our daily lives.

The Big Release

If we boil it all down to its simplest terms, forgiveness means letting go. It’s the big release. If someone owed you money, forgiveness would be saying, “I release you from the debt. You don’t ever have to pay me back.” On an emotional level it’s saying, “You hurt me, yet I am letting go of the emotional responsibility I feel you owe me. You have no obligation to pay me back.” True forgiveness means you will never need to bring up the offense again because the release is genuine and you have made the choice not to revisit the event.

Wow! For many of us, to let go of the deep pains we’ve experienced in our lives sounds pretty hard core. Some of the people who’ve hurt us don’t even feel sorry; others continue to injure us. Some people are just plain jerks, while others have done unspeakably evil things to us. Perhaps to you this forgiveness idea sounds like weakness. You’re asking, “Why would I ever want to do that?”

The Big Weakness

One of the biggest lies we buy into is that holding onto resentment, bitterness, and pain gives us power. Anger can seem so strong, like electricity coursing through our bodies. It can even make us feel like we control the situation. We fool ourselves into thinking, “If I hold onto to this resentment and continue to replay the situation, I can in some way get even, and no one will ever hurt me again.” This, sadly, is an illusion, a life-crippling lie.

When we experience pain, it’s natural to set up defenses. We put up hedges around us to keep people out. We say to ourselves, “I’ll never make that mistake again.” So up goes the emotional barrier. Think of it as a barbed-wire fence keeping people at a distance. If anyone tries to get close to us, the wire will be sure to give him a little cut, so he’ll have to step back. Certainly that barbed wire will keep people from getting close, but we fail to notice how it really hurts us in the process.

As we continue to hold onto resentment we wrap that sharp barrier around ourselves--tighter and tighter as we replay the scenarios--until finally we are all wound up in it ourselves. Soon we have set up a barrier that even cuts and scrapes us, gouging into our emotional skin and keeping us from moving. Eventually we look at ourselves and say, “Ouch! I’m stuck. When did this happen?”  It happens slowly and steadily with each resentment and pain we choose to hold onto.

Yes, that barrier keeps out those who might hurt you, but have you ever thought that it also keeps out the people who can help you? When we shut ourselves away from the ones we fear, we also shut out the ones we love. And here’s a shocking truth: We also lock out God! The pains we hide and guard are the pains we never truly let God heal. If you at times you aren’t feeling close to God or others, take a look at the bitterness you’re harboring--undoubtedly there are pains wrapped in a defensive wire that keeps everyone away. Everyone.

Look at the hatreds you hold toward others. Whether toward petty problems or huge hurdles, do they make you feel free and strong, or do they really cripple you? If you’re seeing the latter, it could very well be because you have never let go of that bitterness. You’re still holding on. Actually, the other person might not even remember the offence, but you keep rehearsing it in your mind. If that’s the case, who’s the one really hurting you today? Yes, it’s you! Each time you replay the event and hold on to the original pain, you allow yourself to be hurt over and over—as if it just happened today. The exciting news is, you do have real power, but it’s not the power you thought you had; it’s the power to let go, to forgive and never look back. Does freedom really sound weak?

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