How Long Should Forgiveness Take? | Joy Summers

Read (from the New Living Translation)

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.

Matthew 6:14

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Is forgiveness a one-time thing? Joy from The Carlos & Joy Show shares how she’s learning to answer this question.

Choosing to forgive someone is not just a pivotal moment, but the beginning of a process.

I wish someone would have told me that a long time ago!

It has always been hard for me to forgive. I can blame it on my overactive emotional memory. I can recall a single moment from years ago and remember how someone made me feel. That is a beautiful gift if the exchange was wonderful, but a curse if it was painful. Maybe you are like me that you can almost relive the moment when someone really truly hurt you in your mind and play back every detail.

Even after I decide to forgive, I am still hurt. I am still angry.

I have read in Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Powerful words that remind me how important it is to forgive. But as much as I have searched and scrounged through scripture, I have never found a verse saying it’s a magic trick to a transformed heart.

When my roommate up and left me all alone in an apartment I couldn’t afford…

When the guy I thought was “the one” broke my heart and left me in tears…

When my friend broke a promise that was really important to me…

I was angry and knew I needed to forgive them. Even though none of them came to me and asked for forgiveness, I knew I couldn’t be free of my own hurt and anger until I learned to first forgive.

Now, I am no master forgiver because some of my hurts took many months of counseling and seeking help to learn to let go of and forgive. But what I discovered over and over was releasing the anger and bitterness towards my offender to God did not immediately take away all the hurt.

I was always surprised to find the emotions would come back when I least expected it and I would have to forgive the person ALL OVER AGAIN!

I felt like I must be doing it wrong until I remembered this scripture, Matthew 18:21-22, “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

I don’t think God just shared that with us to help us keep a better count of how many times people offend us, but because he knows our spirits will need to forgive people over and over. It’s a process but I think that’s the point. Forgiveness is yet another thing that I cannot do on my own, but it is suppose to teach me to rely more on God. Repeatedly giving God my hurt and anger and asking him to help my heart forgive draws me closer to him and reminds me that forgiveness is not something I can rock at on my own.

It doesn’t matter how many times I need to forgive someone as long as I keep doing it. Each time I have brought a situation back to God and realized that I need to posture my heart in a place of forgiveness yet again, God is so good to work away at my hurt until it slowly lessens and eventually heals.

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