The Way to Forgive and Let Go
When someone says or does something hurtful to you, a part of your heart dies. Not from the comments or actions of strangers. Strangers never get close enough to you to do any major damage. You would never allow someone you don’t know such unfettered access. No, all the exploding shrapnel that rips through your heart, leaving you sometimes feeling torn and shredded, fires from those dearest to you. And the closer a person makes it into your inner circle, the more devastating the damage done when the bombs go off.
Your heart, so to speak, represents the real you. Not just anyone gets in. Oh, you’ve had your fair share of people who somehow tricked you in to opening up to them. But once inside, these people got exposed for the frauds they were. You swiftly kicked them out of your heart just as quickly as they arrived. No long term damage occurred.
But the people closest to you, those you’ve allowed to glimpse deeply into your heart, they inflict major damage. They know everything about you, including what makes your heart tick.
Usually, it’s not the occurrence of a one-and-down event that damages and scars you inwardly. The killing of the heart happens slowly over time. Piece by small piece—a hateful remark here, a put-down there—and before you know it, you wake up feeling cold and distant toward the other person. The part of the heart they took from you just happened to be the part that held all the emotion you had for them. You want nothing more to do with them, because you feel like they’ve taken too much from you already. Along with wounding your heart, they’ve taken away any desire you had to love or even like them.
The words and actions fired off by others, ripping through your heart, do far more damage than you could ever hope to repair. Sometimes your heart never stops bleeding.
How does God do it? How does God find it in His heart to forgive? The bible writes that King David had a heart after God’s. How could a person have a heart after God unless just like you and me, God has a heart? Not the physical one pumping blood, but rather the one representing who He is—His character, His essence, the opening into His very being. On the day Adam and Eve turned their backs on God, I have no idea what this did to God inwardly. But I imagine somewhere within His heart, He felt a loss.
Did you know that just as the laws of physics govern the physical world, the spiritual realm has its own set of checks and balances? And spiritually speaking, as it relates to the matters of the heart, when others wound you, what they say and do reveals what’s inside of them. But how you respond reveals what’s inside of you.
In other words, all those wounding words and deeds fired your way by others may reveal the condition of their hearts, but how you respond to them reveals the condition of yours.
I realize how heavy this statement can land, particularly when compared to some of the pathetic things others have said and done toward you. But it’s true. How you react toward a wounding word or offensive action tells the story of your own heart.
I know something inside of you may want to resist this spiritual law governing the heart. Maybe others have said or done the unspeakable toward you. Maybe your heart has been violated with the vile. Perhaps the offense was so bad, you feel in your heart a measure of justification for holding on and not letting go.
But why allow some past event to inflict pain on you in the moment? Why allow the memory of the event to cause more pain than the event itself? Why allow the offense to live on?
To you who carry inside of you a wounded and dying heart, God offers you His.
If how you respond to an offender reveals something about your heart, what must God’s response toward your actions reveal about His? I mean, you and I have done our own fair share of launching grenades at God’s heart, stiffening our necks, indulging our flesh, going after sin. And as all of mankind fires away, attempting, so-to-speak, to kill the heart of God, how does He respond?
The secret to forgiving the unforgiveable rests in you losing yourself in the heart of God. Since Jesus is the exact representation of God, He exactly represents God’s heart. In essence, by asking Jesus into your life, the new heart you received was God’s very own. King David may have been a man after God’s own heart, but as a believer, you are a person with God’s exact heart—the heart that came along with Jesus. And to lose yourself in the heart of God happens when you go deeply into Jesus and never come out, as you abide in Him, moment-by-moment.
When it comes to forgiving, you’ve been focused on the wrong thing. “How” never brings a resolution. “How can I forgive someone for doing something so unforgiveable?” is a question that never finds a satisfactory answer. And without an answer, you’ll see nothing but green lights, allowing you to hang on to the offense.
Forgiveness toward others begins as you, yourself, sense the need to be forgiven. Only when you see the heart of God responding toward you will you willingly allow this same heart in you to respond to those who have offended you.
To forgive, or not to forgive, simply reveals where you live. You either lose yourself in Jesus or try to find life in a heart wounded beyond repair. You can’t live in a broken heart and expect to fix your relationships.
What you need is an overcoming life coursing through yours. And for that, you’ll need a strong heart to do all the pumping.
The heart of God.
The heart of God living within you.
The heart that says, “Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”