Over and over, throughout this blog series, I have reminded you that forgiveness is a process empowered by God. The first step is usually the hardest step. The first step is often the most misunderstood and misrepresented. If a person can get passed the first step correctly the process usually goes smoothly. This is especially true with forgiveness. We have all been told and taught things about forgiveness that is totally unbiblical and completely wrong. And—all that unbiblical stuff hinders us from doing what God demands.
The first step is the hardest—or so the song goes. Forgiveness begins with a simple, but profound act of the will. You must choose to forgive (to pardon, remit, or overlook the mistake, fault, offense, hurt, or injury of the offender without demanding penalty, punishment, or retribution) the person who has hurt you. You willingly turn this person over to God. That means accepting what has occurred, absorbing both the cost and the pain, while at the same time giving up your desire to get even or reap your revenge. Just remember—most people who hurt other people either don’t know what they’ve done or they don’t care.
When something is painful, we tend to want to bundle it all up in a sack and deal with it in a wholesale manner. Forgiveness doesn’t work that way. You can’t say, “I forgive ______ for everything he or she has ever done to me.” What was done to you was usually not done in a wholesale manner, but rather one act at a time. And—each act hurt and caused very specific wounds. Therefore if it wasn’t done in a wholesale manner, it cannot be forgiven in a wholesale manner. Each incident must be confronted, verbalized, and forgiveness specifically applied.
Each incident is a like an arrow in stuck in your soul. If you are not specific, the devil will continue to grab that arrow and twist it to cause as much pain as he can. As long as the offense is embedded there, the pain will never go away and the wound will always be just as raw as the moment it happened.
Offering forgiveness for each specific offense allows you to remove those arrows one by one and hold them in your hand, which gives you authority over them. They no longer control you—you now exercise control over them. Those arrows are not who you are, but rather they are what someone did to you. Once you have removed an arrow of offense, confessed and verbalized the pain out-loud, and forgiven it, God takes the arrow from your hand and beings the healing process in your heart and soul. As long as the arrow of offense is sticking in your heart and soul, healing won’t come no matter the length of time that passes. Time does not heal all wounds; it is what you do with the time and forgiveness is your only option.
How do I do this? By simply naming the person (if you know their name) and the offense, sin, or hurt that was perpetrated against you. Find a place that’s quiet where you can be alone. Take a pad and a pen. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you anyone or anything hidden in your heart or soul that you need to forgive. When he starts speaking—you start writing. Don’t argue! Don’t rationalize! Write it down! Write the offense down—put it into words. Express how it made you feel. Write the person’s name down if you know it or write as much of a description of that person as you can if you don’t. Number them in the order the Spirit of God reveals them. List them by name and offense as long as the Holy Spirit keeps talking. When he stops, ask him if there is anything else. Be still for a few moments and listen.
This may take a few minutes, a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, depending on how much stuff you’ve accumulated in that room at the end of the hall in your soul. Allow the Holy Spirit access so he can thoroughly clean it out. Don’t give him limited access and whatever you do—don’t be selective in what you write down. Write everything down!