Bible Reading: Proverbs 4:23-27
Focus Verse: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Often times we think this scripture is about putting a wall up and guarding ourselves so we don’t experience pain. However, this scripture is about being mindful of what we focus on, entertain and think.
A while ago, I was faced with the question, “What is one’s process of forgiveness without growing bitter?”
2010 was starting out to be a great year, I had moved to DC, started my career, found a church that I loved and started to develop friendships that I knew would last a lifetime. Everything in my life was perfect, or so I thought.
“You have to forgive him.” are the words I heard, one Sunday while driving home from church. I knew exactly what the Holy Spirit was referring to. But I didn’t want to, I didn’t want to forgive my father, I didn’t feel like I needed to. I had adapted to our relationship; no, it wasn’t the best, but it was better than it had been in the past. I had moved on and wanted to put the past behind me.
My childhood wasn’t an easy one. I experienced things that no child should have to; abuse, alcoholism and all the demons that go along with them. Because of this, throughout the years, I harbored a lot of unforgivness and bitterness towards my dad. But God was calling me to a new place, an unfamiliar place. After wrestling with Him, I gave in and began the process of forgiving my father.
During this process this is what I learned:
Bitterness, which stems from unforgiveness, often times occurs because we entertain and replay the wrong that was done to us. Playing out different scenarios, justifying our victimization, which further leads us to justifying our unforgiveness, which then leads to bitterness. But, if we guard our hearts, and make a DECISION to not entertain those thoughts, the actual action, or look at ourselves as “the victim”, and make a DECISION to forgive, bitterness doesn’t have the opportunity to grow. The path to forgiveness begins with making a DECISION to do so.
I could no longer base the action to forgive my father on how I felt because quite frankly, I knew I would never feel like doing so. I had to decide to do so, and make certain my future actions lined up with the decision I made. It wasn’t an easy process, but it was necessary in order for me to move forward, towards all that God had for me.
Has God placed it on your heart to forgive someone that may have wronged you in the past? Have you been trying to move forward but have been unsuccessful because of past experiences? What name/s are coming to mind as you are reading this?
Pray this prayer: Holy Father, thank you so much for speaking directly to my heart. You know exactly what I need, when I need it. God, I have been hurt, but I don’t want to continue to walk in unforgiveness. I want to be whole and begin the process of true forgiveness. Bring to my memory anyone that I have not fully forgiven so that I can begin the process to forgive. Help me to take proper actions that line up with my decision to forgive. I know that alone, I will not be able to accomplish true forgiveness, but I know that with You, I can do all things, so I exchange my weakness for Your strength, in Your son, Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!