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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)

Forgiveness is a sensitive topic.  Many people who have been abused or wronged do not want to forgive, thinking it absolves the abuser of all wrongdoings, or means they need to forget the suffering they endured.  However, I do not believe this at all!  I believe the reason God wants us to forgive has nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with ourselves.  Forgiving to me means releasing all anger towards the person who hurt or abused you.  It means trusting that God will take care of that person, rather than you trying to get revenge on this person yourself.  Forgiveness also means realized you deserve better than carrying around anger inside, which can make you bitter and mistrusting of other people as well as give you physical symptoms like high blood pressure, ulcers, kidney problems and more.  Simply put, I believe forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.

God showed me some things that I believe may help anyone who is harboring anger, unforgiveness, and even hatred for those who have hurt them.

First, hurting or angry people often tend to lash out. Those who have mistreated or abused you are most likely full of anger, unforgiveness and are hurt themselves.  This person could be treating you badly because they are just so full of those horrible feelings that it overflows into their relationships.  Most people who behave this way are either unaware of their actions or unaware of how to change.

Second, remember that may people who have been abused continue the abuse.  Either they never admitted to themselves that that were abused, or they do not have the inner "umph" to be sure that they do not act the same way.  There are other people who have been abused that do not abuse as was done to them, but they are still abusive.  For example, my mother was raised by her ignoring narcissistic mother, yet when my mother raised me, she became an engulfing narcissistic mother.

And third is this- think about what you know about the person you need to forgive.  She or he may have never learned how to treat people properly, because they had no examples of healthy people around.  Dysfunctional behavior could be all this person knows!  She or he may not have had a good example of loving, kind people to learn by.  His or her examples could have been judgmental, critical people who treated her as if she was not important.  How can one know how to treat others if they have not 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 do not know it is wrong or if you do realize it is wrong, you do not know how to change.

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 what is going on here.  If you were wrong, apologize quickly to smooth over things.  If you were not wrong, then ask the Father to help you forgive.  He will help you!  

Forgiveness is often a process, when there is great hurt, anger, betrayal, abuse, etc.  It may take a long time to work through all of the strong feelings.  It will come though in time, when you are ready.  Also, talk to God about what you feel, and ask Him to help you to deal with those feelings.  He will!

Try not to rush forgiveness.  Anger has it's place, and often it is a very good motivator for change. It is much healthier to be angry for a while and work through your feelings than to just release the anger immediately.  Besides, doing that means it may come back later, since it was not dealt with properly.

One final thing- please do not confuse forgiving with forgetting.   I think many people who hear about forgiveness think it means letting people mistreat you.   Forgetting instead sets you up for more abuse in many cases!   Let go of the little indiscretions not done intentionally to hurt you, but remember when someone has intentionally hurt you, because that means they are fully capable of hurting you again.


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