The Secret To Youth Is Forgiveness. Forgiveness is not easy. Forgiveness is not a onetime act. Forgiveness is a habit that needs to be practiced and covered with holiness and prayer.
I wake up most every single day saying this simple prayer, “Dear God please let my heart love the way YOU love even when it hurts and is hard.” And throughout the day, when anger or resentments want to take up space in my head or heart I will pray and cover myself in more prayer. And one day you wake up and say this prayer, “God I know I pray this every day and it may seem monotone but really I am sure that anger and resentment would like to creep in. Cover me in your love that nothing about who I am carries anger and resentment into my day.” And the calm of forgiveness comes.
Many years ago, I was speaking at a women’s retreat. I felt like I was NOT even qualified to be talking to women about God and life, but I had to trust that they trusted me and therefore God would somehow use me. I spoke on developing habits in our relationship with God. I shared how the habit of forgiveness is not an easy one when we are in relationships that continually hurt us. I shared some habits I had developed in hopes that these ladies may learn and grow through forgiveness. One gal came up to me afterwards. She got within a few inches of my face and told me that she had been praying for 25 years and forgiveness was not something she could do. I did not back away. I looked at her worn, stone hard face. I learned that she was in her late 40’s. I was in my early 40’s. She went on to tell me that I had not been hurt hard enough or lived long enough to understand what real pain is. And when that time came I would be “preaching a different message.” She was shocked to learn that I was in my 40’s.
I came away thanking God for intervening into my heart. I just listened and asked her if I could pray with her. Her face, her body, her tone and her countenance were riddled with resentments and anger. I wanted to tell her that I was abused as a child. Beaten, bruised, and molested. I wanted to tell her of damaged relationships that left me empty. I wanted to tell her the pains of my life that was caused by others. I did not. I just prayed with her. And it was then I began to take notice of how people wore their anger and resentments. The health issues and the pains. The hardness of hearts and it was then I postured my heart more to see that no matter what offenses come my way I could be a forgiving daughter of Christ.
How do you forgive and let go? I heard once that we have this notion that we, “forgive and forget.” “When really we forgive, and remember.” There is love in forgiveness. And when we do remember, because scars are reminders, we choose to love. We choose to cover the other person in love, and in doing that we protect our own hearts with love. Easy enough, right?
Five Things I have Learned About Forgiving
1. Forgiveness is a verb. Taking steps and action on your part. No one is responsible but you. Not the person who offended or hurt you. YOU are the only one who can act on that stage of forgiveness.
2. Pray for the person. I cannot forgive on my own. On my own I would be inclined to say bad words in my head. And I am not even a person who uses bad words. However, when I feel the pain of the hurt or the offense, I just pray for that person. I mean good Godly Holy prayers that last an hour and have me speaking in old testament dialect. Not really. It’s more like, “Dear God you know I am in pain here. Help me to forgive and give me a heart of love toward that person.” And really God intervenes into my thoughts and heart condition.
3. Write their name(s) in your journal. Next to their name list ways you can pray for them. And then pray for them. Ask God to speak into your heart how you can pray for that person. I would like to pray, “Dear God, may this person rot in a cold dark place for what they did.” However when you truly seek God how to love and forgive HE pours the wisdom of praying into your thoughts. “Dear God, I know this person is in need and I pray you would provide and through those provisions you would bring someone along to show love and kindness.” Really on my own I do not come up with this stuff.
4. Serve those who have hurt you. I am not saying go out of your way and put yourself in a position of more hurt. That is not what I am talking about here. Trust me, the day the courts handed me over to the state at the age of 11 years old. I had no desire to EVER face my step-dad. In my late 20’s I started praying for him. If you are interfacing with the peoples who have hurt you then step into how you can serve them. I faced a person who hurt me deeply in a coffee shop a couple of years ago, I was kind of mad at God about that one because I felt God saying, “you need to go over and show her love. Ask her questions and give her a heart that says forgiveness.” DRAT!!! I sat in that coffee shop for 45 minutes arguing with God. And then my legs stood up. I walked over to her and asked if I could sit down. I asked about her life, her kids and how she was doing. She thanked me and even squeezed my hand. There was no talk of the offenses. Out of obedience to God, I could sit and love on her with a true heart of forgiveness.
5. Avoid gossiping about the people who have hurt you by name or affiliation. The world is small and just last week I faced a very big deal that could have been bad had I blabbed about it. There were some HUGE injustices towards my daughter. I had decided to go into social media and use this company as an example. I mean don't you think future customers should know about this company? But then God, and again an argument between me and God. Okay talking about God and my fighting obedience seems to be common. Why? There is that need to let everyone know just exactly what that company did. Yet I talked with my daughter and said I would not be using social media and that we could just move on and forgive. And it turns out that there is a friend affiliated with this company.
Forgiveness is never easy. I titled and started this post with, “The Secret To Youth Is Forgiveness”. Resentment and anger wear our faces and bodies down. Holding on, and keeping the icky stuff inside weighs heavy on a person’s countenance. I get asked all the time what kind of skin remedies I have. I always chuckle. “Uh Ivory soap and Banana Boat after Sun Care.” I have used these two products since I was 14 years old. But really the secret is forgiveness. I am sure that is it. Which also contributes to my good health.
What are you hanging onto? What consumes your thoughts? What hurts are lingering? Un-Forgiveness causes hurts to linger. Not forgiving eats a person up from the inside out. I submit to you right now that if you do not know how to forgive, just practice for two weeks these five steps. Ask God to step into your heart and thoughts and HE will intervene. The freedom of forgiveness is the secret to youth. Love and Blessings dear Friends~Elizabeth