“I forgive, but don’t forget.”
That’s such a common phrase you hear. It’s true that sometimes it’s impossible to forget about situations, especially when you have an extremely good memory, but when people use this term they usually say it because they don’t actually forgive, but rather “sweep it under the rug”. It’s said as a way of making it seem like you chose to forgive, but you’re going to use the situation against that very person you “forgave” when another big issue comes along, so is that really forgiving?
I used to be the biggest grudge holder in the history of life. Okay, maybe not life, but I would hold grudges for THEE longest time. I would hold a grudge for the smallest things possible. For example, when we were teenagers, my sister and I fought over who ate the other’s last yogurt (it was definitely my yogurt that she ate, but you know, I forgave ha, ha) and I literally was mad for probably about a week or two (now we laugh about it). I would hold grudges against friends who stood me up or had friends who talked bad about me or would never make an effort to hang out with me unless I went to them, or just whatever other things are possible to do to hurt or offend another person. Some of the things I had a valid reason for being hurt (others, I was just emotionally immature), but that didn’t mean I had a valid reason to stay hurt.
When I was five years old, my dad and my biological mother split up. During that time, my biological mother chose a lifestyle of drugs and prostitution (she’s turned her life around since then and has a relationship with Christ and is a woman of God). I would only really hear from her when she was in jail. As soon as I got a letter in the mail, I knew that she was in jail. Society always paints the picture of the fathers leaving the family, but this time, my biological mother left my brother (from her side) and me to be raised by our fathers. I moved with my grandparents until my dad got settled and in that time my biological mother had gotten locked up again. At that age I really didn’t understand what was going on. When I was with my grandparents in Puerto Rico (my maternal grandparents), they always told me that my biological mom was in the hospital. It wasn’t until later where the truth was revealed to me. I took kindergarten in Puerto Rico and at my graduation my dad came to pick me up and bring me to Florida where I had a step-mother and step-sister waiting to meet me. It wasn’t the “happily ever after” I thought it would be. When I moved in with what would be my new family at the time, I didn’t get treated the best by the step-mother I had at the time, probably not on purpose, but because there was lack of knowledge on how to deal with a child that was going through the emotional situation I was going through. There was a lack of affection and compassion. Then my father got divorced to that step-mother and we lived just him and I for about three years, which brought on a lot of feelings of rejection and abandonment again.
I had a rough childhood emotionally because of all this situation. I always bottled up my emotions, I didn’t know how to express myself, and those things spiraled into a whirlwind of emotional issues. As a child I grew up with low self-esteem, always felt rejected, fearful of the future, emotionally unstable, I had a feeling of abandonment, depression, and I could never seem to be genuinely happy, even though on the outside I seemed like a social butterfly that had it all.
When I was a thirteen, my dad married who I now say is my mom and gained a brother and a sister. However, when they got married, it was so difficult for me to open up to the idea of a family. I had dealt with disappointment, rejection, abandonment, and lack of affection for so long and I had put up such a wall that I didn’t know how to receive love. I didn’t understand that was a concept until later, but I could give people love, I just couldn’t receive it. I constantly rejected the idea of doing things as a family because it was my way of protecting myself emotionally, even though I didn’t realize that I was hurting the people around me by doing so. It wasn’t until I got older that I started appreciating the little things we did as a family. However, during those teenage years, there were many fights, SOOO many grudges, resentments, and throwing things in each other’s faces. Our family in general had a problem with forgiveness. We lacked the ability to truly forgive each other when we got into arguments and disagreements.There were times when I would argue with my dad and I wouldn’t talk to him for two months. Two months!!! To look back on that now and it’s so crazy that we were able to do that. Our family was a disaster because of lack of forgiveness, which is basically a silent killer.
Those feelings of unforgiveness and resentment followed me into my adult life. As an adult, all those negative feelings that I grew up with constantly came back in situations when it came to relationships with people. I constantly felt like if a friend wasn’t close to me like they were in the beginning, I was being rejected. I always felt like once friends made new friends, I was being replaced. Because I didn’t learn how to express my feelings verbally as a child, when I felt hurt, it automatically turned into anger, and I would hold a grudge, reject the person that hurt me, or even worse, try and “get them back” for hurting me. When I got hurt, I would automatically put up walls against people and I would “forgive”, but I literally would store it in an emotional box and use it for “ammo” later if I ever got into an argument with that person. Can you imagine living that way? It was like a huge load on my shoulders to constantly carry.
Sometime last year, I went through an experience at the place I used to work and I remember it really tested my faith. I remember being put in an uncomfortable position in my workplace because of money. I had just given birth to my daughter and I was financially in a hold because of a no paid maternity leave and I wasn’t able to honor my supervisor. I was put in an uncomfortable position because my supervisor, who I considered a friend, got upset because a situation blew out of proportion. At that point in time, I was hurt, I felt misunderstood, I felt rejected, and I felt like someone I had considered a friend and loved so much had turned their back on me. I eventually made the decision to leave that specific place where I worked, but for a long time, I carried the hurt in my heart. The hurt of rejection and in that moment I felt like those feelings of rejection from the past came up all over again. I got angry, but most of all, I was just holding resentment. I said I forgave her, but I carried those feelings in my heart. I remember it was hard for me to worship and pray because I was carrying that hurt and anger, so I couldn’t receive what God wanted to give me or say to me.
It wasn’t until I learned in church how life-threatening unforgiveness is. It may sound dramatic, but unforgiveness is literally life-threatening. Unforgiveness effects your spirit and your soul, as well as your physical body. When you live in unforgiveness, it causes roots of bitterness, resentment, and those things lead to spiritual death. When you reach spiritual death, you begin living in depression, discouragement, anger, and you these emotions are linked to your natural body. Cancer and other major diseases all have roots of unforgiveness (or they could be generational curses, but that’s a whole other subject). Unforgiveness causes eventual death. That sounds crazy, right? It may sound crazy, but it’s true. When you live a lifestyle of unforgiveness, you also cut off your blessings. God will not listen to your prayers when you are holding a grudge in your heart. God will allow demons to torture you if you don’t forgive others (Matthew 18:34-35). God will not forgive your sins if you don’t forgive other people (Matthew 6:14-15). Not forgiving others is a sin against God.
When I learned that, it really made me think . How many times have I failed God? How many times did I lie? How many times did I offend God? How many times did I fornicate in my past? How many times did I put other things before God? How many times did I get drunk? How many times did I fail to honor my mother and father and the rest of the ten commandments? I failed God on a daily basis. So how was I going to not forgive someone for offending me or hurting me or betraying me or rejecting me, but expect God to forgive me when I do all the same things to Him? I expected God to forgive me of ALL my sins, but I didn’t forgive my neighbor (friend, sibling, parents, boyfriend, coworkers, boss…ect.). I wanted God to forgive me. Jesus forgave me and died for me KNOWING I was going to fail Him daily. So who are we to not forgive? The Bible says in Hebrews 8:12, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”, so if God can forgive and forget, what makes us so special that when a person asks us for forgiveness, we store it in a box and decide we’ll use it against them later?
The day I chose to forgive was probably one of the best days of my life. I remember being in an inner-healing and deliverance retreat at my church when they spoke about unforgiveness and I remember when they prayed for me and I got delivered from the spirit of unforgiveness and I just felt a freedom. A freedom I had never felt before. I stood there and named the people I needed to forgive and all of a sudden, I felt God literally fill me with this love and compassion. I remember crying on the floor for a whiiiiileee, but it was because I felt free. I felt like that load of grudges I had carried for years against my biological mother, my father, my siblings, friends, past relationships, past friendships, past experiences, against myself, and just all of those feelings of resentment left and I just felt so light. I felt a joy that can only come from Christ in my spirit. I realized that each and every person who comes into our life will offend us at some point, they will fail us at some point, they will disappoint us and even make us mad at some point, but we also will fail, offend, disappoint, and anger people, but there is freedom in forgiveness. Forgiveness gives you spiritual life as well as spiritual freedom. God can bless you with more if you aren’t holding onto resentments and grudges.
Here’s what I want to leave off with, all of us have been hurt, rejected, betrayed, people have said negative things about us, we’ve been abandoned by a parent, or we’ve been hurt by our families at some point, but there is power when you make the decision to forgive. Forgiving isn’t an emotion. You don’t wake up in the mood to forgive. You have to make a conscious decision to forgive. Sometimes you can’t forgive by your own will power and that’s when you have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to forgive those who have wronged you in the past, as well as asking for forgiveness for the ones that you’ve wronged before. Forgiveness opens the heavens for God to bless you. So, today, I challenge you to be bold and make the decision to forgive those people who’ve hurt you. Let God wipe away all of those hurts, those pains, those nights filled with crying, and allow yourself to be set free from that load on your shoulders.
It’s a new day!!
God bless you!