You’re usually pretty good at shoving the pain down, but sometimes it still gets to you. If you dwell on it for too long, it gets overwhelming. The part of you that was hurt—offended, dishonored, rejected, used—feels stuck there. It’s as though a piece of your soul got broken off and tethered to that moment. If you can’t find a way for your heart and mind to escape quickly enough, you start thinking and acting like the person you were then, instead of who God says you are now.
Forgiving people who’ve hurt you is more for you than them. Forgiveness can reconcile people—it’s a blessing to restore relationship with someone who’s genuinely sorry for what they’ve said or done. But sometimes the offenders aren’t sorry, or they’re unaware they’ve done anything wrong, or they’re simply unavailable. Regardless of whether someone receives it, forgiveness is still critical for you.
Forgiveness places you in the center of God’s presence, in the middle of his grace. It’s okay if you don’t feel like forgiving, and don’t feel love for the one who wounded you. It’s God who does the healing, not you. In that place of grace, he restores your emotions, your thoughts, your identity. You don’t have to carry these burdens anymore. They aren’t part of your identity in Christ; Jesus already took every last one of them on himself, and dealt with them at the cross.
Let Jesus redeem the memory. I don’t mean pretend it never happened and paint on a religious smile. I mean let him expose all the negativity attached to it, and displace it with his presence. Someone may have judged you worthless, useless, a failure, never good enough—let him show you the roots of every lie, offense, and rejection, and disempower them with his overwhelming truth, grace, and love. You are brilliant, amazing, brave, smart, capable, confident, powerful, and completely loved. He is proud to call you his child. Let the wounded, bitter, self–pitying version of yourself go. Let God remake you as a new creation—whole, joyful, unbound from the past, un–offendable, and excited about your future with him.
“Teach me your ways, Lord, so I can walk in your truth. Put the pieces of my heart together again, so I can live in awe of your name” (Psalm 86:11).
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:27-28).
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be disheartened, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, and uphold you with my righteousness” (Isaiah 41:10).
“‘For I know the thoughts I think toward you—never thoughts of evil or pain, but always of peace and wholeness, to give you a future and a hope'” (Jer. 29:11).