Have you ever felt that no matter what you did, you could not break free from what people thought of you – their judgments and opinions? When that happens, I realized a long time ago that it is because people entrap you into a place in time, a moment where something happened between you and them. There is pain in that moment in time for whatever reason – failure, betrayal, anger and more. I may have been a part of it. I may have even caused it. But, as I repent, ask forgiveness and forgive, I am free to move forward. Yet, that does not mean others will. Therein lies the problem.
For years, I kept a close watch on my heart – keeping anger and unforgiveness at bay because I knew I was so easily prone to it in my life due to past hurts and wounds. With God’s grace, I forgave over and over knowing that it freed me up inside. No matter what happens, I chose to forgive and to always ask forgiveness, even if it is through clenched teeth or some measure of initial resistance. I choose to forgive. I start somewhere and eventually God syncs my heart with the reality of my words.
This way of forgiveness formed in my life when my sister was murdered in 1982. I knew that if I did not forgive, this pain and trauma would incapacitate me emotionally, physically and spiritually throughout my life. I would be imprisoned to that moment of time if I did not allow forgiveness to set me free.
When I heard of my sister’s murder, I had to walk through the practicalities of life – helping my parents deal with it, going through paperwork, and talking to the police. Months later, when the initial shock wore off, I had to deal with me. For over a year, I walked in a cloud unable to truly face it and look at it head on. Things like this just didn’t happen to us. My life was imprisoned to a moment in time and I was trapped.
One day Holy Spirit overwhelmed me with emotion in a time of worship and simply said, “Forgive the person who did this.”
I said, “I don’t know how.”
Holy Spirit said, “Choose to forgive.”
I said, “I forgive.”
I remember, at that moment, just crumpling to the floor, weeping and weeping for hours. When I got up I was free. To this day, I still grieve the loss of my sister; a dear friend but there is no anger or bitterness toward the person who did this to our family. Forgiveness is real and true and releases you from moments of time that are traumatic in your life. There is power in forgiveness.
Now getting back to my point above. People who don’t or won’t deal with their own anger, unforgiveness, bitterness and pain are stuck in time. When people unjustly attack me, I can ask forgiveness, truly repent and then, I am free. I am not trapped in that moment of pain, even if I was some part of it through anger, betrayal or for whatever reason. I am free in Christ. I don’t want to go back to that point but frequently, others do. And they never cease to remind me about that. They often accuse me, overtly or subliminally, wanting more on my part – more groveling, more proof of changed behavior, more of something. I can’t go there and in deciding that, they don’t like it, which only revs up their engines to accuse and attack more. They want to lock me up in the past and keep me there.
Don’t let anyone pull you back in time to a place where you are not at any more. It’s a place where guilt and discouragement can cast a snare and try to trap you in that moment again. You don’t live there anymore. You are free.
Now, don’t think for one second that because you understand this, others will also. People are people and each of us is responsible for our own lives. Each of us stands before the Lord for our own actions. We can only do what we can do. So to this day, I still encounter people who won’t let me be me. They want to write a script of their own understanding in which I am the star player who negatively impacted their life in some way. Ever feel like that? Look around, it’s happening on social media all the time. Attacks, accusations and more – all because people won’t forgive and move on. Keeping it in the forefront adds a lot of drama and they get a lot of attention for the most part.
Once you have done all you can, stand in the freedom and forgiveness that is yours in Christ. Don’t allow your future to be taken captive to moments in time past. You stand in the now and that is a glorious place to stand. The now moves you forward and by God’s grace there is always a new day, a fresh start, a new life…that’s how good God is. Again, there is so much to say about this. Get your journal and spend some time with God and He will reveal His heart to you personally in your own situation. He is faithful to do that.
Moving on in Christ.
Image 1 – Flickr – Paul Sableman
Image 2 – Flickr – Christa Lohman
Image 3 – Flickr – BRainy Photography