Christmas can be one of the most joyous but also stressful times of the year. It is the time when you find yourself once again under the same roof with those who know exactly how to push your buttons (and you theirs). Much of it is done unintentionally yet it still makes the holiday season not quite so pleasant.
This is true for me personally. Each time I have opportunity to visit my parents, I sincerely look forward to the time. Yet, when I find myself in their presence, I can’t help but shrink back, hide and defend my heart. Time turns back and I am ten again, battling with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to attend IHOP-KC’s deliverance training. Their teaching on forgiveness gave me greater clarity on God’s definition on forgiveness. This has helped me receive grace from God to genuinely forgive my mom and know that God sees and cares about my pains. Not only am I more able to accept my pain and approach it with greater clarity rather than fear, I can also receive God’s love for me in that situation. He is leading me deeper into the truth that He is a righteous judge and nothing escapes from His eyes. This revelation has strengthened me to entrust my pains to Him, give Him my unforgiveness in exchange for grace to forgive and trust those who have hurt me into His hands for Him to judge rather than I myself. It has brought much healing to my heart especially in my relationship with my mom.
Having a right understanding of forgiveness has helped me approach my parents differently. Before, I would agree with the enemy’s condemnation when I was angry and had difficulty forgiving them. But the truth is, there is NO GOOD in me apart from Christ. When I agree with the enemy’s condemnation and shame he tries weight upon me, I am separated from God. When I’m separated from God, I don’t have the strength to forgive nor can I look into His eyes and understand His heart and judgment on the situation. I then accept the enemy’s accusations towards God that He doesn’t care nor will justice be served. I also accept the enemy’s accusation towards myself, that I am an unforgiving and bitter person.
In the process, I’ve discovered that it’s not an apology I desire. In my anger, pain and shame, what quenches the depths of my heart is knowing God sees, God cares and the vengeance is His. When I see God as who He is, a righteous judge, I’m able to release the person from the debt they owe me, and entrust them to Him.
I hope I’m communicating this clearly, I am not encouraging retribution and being fixated upon vengeance, but rather having a right understanding of God’s definition of forgiveness. If you have questions or thoughts, please feel free to comment or email me. : )
So below are the notes on forgiveness from the training. May it bless you and your family not only this Christmas but all throughout your life:
(my own thoughts are indicated with an asterix)
What Forgiveness Is Not:
1. Forgiveness is not saying that what that person did to you is OK.
a. It is not OK. It will never be OK. It was wrong.
2. Forgiveness is not a feeling.
a. It is obedience to God’s Word.
b. It is a choice. It’s a decision to obey God.
3. Forgiveness is not healing.
a. Forgiveness paves the way or opens the door for healing.
b. If you have forgiven someone and still feel pain, it’s because you need to receive your healing. The forgiveness comes first, then the healing. (*and healing is a process we need God’s help to be patient with. Many times the enemy will use the pain I feel towards a person to accuse me of unforgiveness. But it’s so good to be reminded that pain is not always an indication that I have deep unforgiveness, rather an indication that more healing need to take place and a reminder of my need of the Lord.)
What Forgiveness Is:
1. Forgiveness is a command.
a. One of the biggest mistakes we could ever make is thinking forgiveness is an option It is not an option, it is a commandment.
2. Forgiveness is releasing them to God; it is turning them over to God.
Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We have to understand we have absolutely no right to hold anyone in un-forgiveness. God will not tolerate us doing so and “anyone” includes you. You must forgive yourself. “Anyone: also includes God. If you blame God or you are mad at Him, you need to forgive Him.
How to Forgive:
1. Get alone and ask the Lord to show you the people you need to forgive.
2. Write down names of people you need to forgive, by making a list (They may be the little girl from the third grade, my fit grade school teacher etc.)
3. Be sure to include yourself
4. Be sure to include God (*this is more for our own hearts. God does not need our forgiveness but many times, we may have offenses towards God that is hindering our relationship with Him ).
5. Go over each name with the Lord and express to Him how they have hurt you.
6. Write down what they did and why you need to forgive them (Example: Mrs. Smith, my fifth grade teacher, humiliated me, she made fun of me and I was so angry. I was so vulnerable and not able to protect myself from her).
7. List whatever feeling you had and the degree to which you felt them (Example: I was so angry, I did not care if they fell and hurt themselves, actually I wish they had, etc. I wished I could have died because of the humiliation). *be specific! don’t just say something vague like, “I forgive them for being mean”
8. Then choose to forgive and release them, and do it. Say something like, “Lord I choose to forgive and release (name of person).”
9. Then do it. Say, “I forgive them.”
10. Write a letter to each person. “I forgive and release you from….”
11. Not all letters will be sent. These are an act of faith. The Lord will see you are serious.
12. This last step can be the hardest but also the most freeing. Get some tissues and go somewhere alone, the bathroom, or your bedroom with a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror and forgive and release yourself for everything that you need to forgive yourself of. Have lots of tissue.
Forgiveness will release us from the tormentors!
It will also allow God to make us the man or woman of God that He has called us to be.