Mathew 6:14-15: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (KJV)
Over the last 12 years I have been with my husband, one person we know has made it abundantly clear she doesnít like me, or think I am good enough to be married to my husband. The years of criticisms and judgment I have heard since we met had left me full of resentment and anger towards her. But, lately, I hadnít really thought much about it. I just assumed Iíd forgiven her. Apparently, I was wrong. This morning, God showed me quite clearly that I still harbored much anger and even hatred towards her. As I told God I was justified in feeling this way, and reminded Him of some of her words, He showed me some things that I believe may help anyone who is also harboring anger, unforgiveness and even hatred for those who have hurt them.
First, hurting, angry people tend to lash out. Those who have mistreated or even abused you are most likely full of anger, unforgiveness and hurt themselves. They are probably treating you badly because they are just so full of those horrible feelings it overflows into other relationships, or maybe even because you did something that reminded them of their abuser. But most likely, this person doesn't mean to hurt you. It isn't personal- they would lash out at anyone in your position.
Second, try to step into the other personís shoes for a moment. Maybe you said or did something insensitive and they are reacting to how your words hurt, belittled, trivialized, etc. them. Not everyone knows to confront those types of situations, and instead they mistreat the person who hurt them. Ask God to help you see what you may have said or done that caused these problems.
And third, possibly the most eye opening for me, is think about what you know about this person. They may have never learned how to treat people properly because they were mistreated themselves! In my situation, I know this lady was mistreated by many people in her life. Mistreatment was all she knew! She didnít have a good example of loving, kind people to learn by. Her examples were judgmental, critical people, and some who treated her as if she wasn't important. Also, this lady came from a rather difficult childhood and married at the tender age of 16. When I thought about these things, suddenly, the mistreatment of me made sense. How can one know how to treat others if they havenít seen a good example? If all you see is one way of treating people, then that is most likely what you will end up doing yourself, because you donít know itís wrong!
So the next time someone mistreats you, I encourage you to stop reacting with anger, and take a moment to think about why this person is acting this way. Ask God to show you whatís going on here. If you were wrong, apologize quickly to smooth over things. If you werenít wrong, then ask the Father to help you forgive. He will help you! Since this morningís revelations, I have mostly forgiven my offender. Not entirely, but I did have many years of anger built up inside to loose. Forgiveness will come, in time, as it is a process. Remember- what took time to create the anger you feel will take time to forgive. But, the forgiveness I have felt so far has enabled me to pray for her, thereby loosing the grip of anger on me so I can forgive more, and pray more. Itís quite a circle!
One final thing, please do not confuse ďforgivingĒ with ďforgetting.Ē I think many people who hear about forgiveness think it means letting people mistreat you. Forgetting simply sets yourself up for more abuse in many cases. Know your boundaries on what you will and wonít tolerate. I strongly believe in picking your battles, so to speak. Let go of the little things, and confront the larger things. For example, if your husband comes home after a bad day and snaps at you, let it go. We all make little mistakes like that. If after a bad day he comes home drunk and kicks your dog, well, then itís time to say something to him about this behavior!
I pray that my revelations of this morning help you to lead a more peaceful, joyful life. God bless and keep you!
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You made some very good points on forgiveness here, and I highly commend you in your perception of what can cause others to be critical of us. You said the forgiveness takes time. As none of us knows how much time God has allocated us, please do not get caught up in the time thing too much. God is such a marvelous God that He can help you get all the forgiveness done. On the other hand, be aware of one thing, Satan is going to come around and try to remind you of all you have forgiven others and their wrongful treatment of you, and he will try to get you resentful again. Be expecting that, and you will not be caught off guard. Thanks for sharing. Thomas