Words from Jesus
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Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is a choice. It’s not something you do because someone is deserving, sorry, or has changed. That’s what makes forgiveness so special and so powerful. When you make the decision to forgive, it doesn’t mean that all the hurt is gone. But once you have decided that you will forgive, then you allow Me to work in your heart.
To forgive is an act that is a step toward freedom and away from the weight of resentment that hurts you and can hurt others. When you carry around hurts that you haven’t forgiven, that weight can crush you and eventually destroy your emotional health and control your life. Letting go of the hurt may be one of the most difficult things you can do, but you are the one who benefits the most from doing so.
I can set things straight, work in others’ lives, and change them—and that will help them, but it won’t help you. I call you to forgive those who have wronged you, because I want to relieve you of the pain and the burden. I want to help you to let go of the hurt that brings sadness or anger or grief. I want you to forgive, because I know that forgiveness is the path to freedom, happiness, and growth.
When I was tortured and killed, it was evil, it was unjust. I brought love, truth, kindness, health, life, and freedom. I had committed no sin. “Father, forgive them” were some of the most difficult words I ever said in My life on earth.1 That moment of forgiveness was an act of will, followed by a moment of relief, for I had passed that test.
I see the peace of mind and freedom that will be restored to you once you make the choice to forgive. Save yourself from the continued pain and grief and crippling that comes from holding on to hurtful experiences, and leave them with Me to take care of in the way that I know is best.
Trust that I am with you and love you. Trust Me by making the decision to leave the past behind and to look with faith to the future. Let the memories of past hurtful experiences make you more understanding of others, a better friend, parent, co-worker, and a stronger disciple. As you take that step by faith, I will bring the healing that you desire.
Leaving the past behind
Something that holds many people back from forgiving others is that the persons involved have not sought forgiveness, or perhaps don’t feel that they need it, or don’t realize how badly they’ve hurt you. You can tend to feel that they don’t deserve your forgiveness, which of course keeps you from giving it.
However, that’s not how forgiveness works. Forgiveness is for you, too. Forgiving the other person helps you.
Forgiveness is the biggest step you can make in leaving the past behind. If you don’t forgive someone, then you can become stuck in the past and held back, and you can’t move forward. You are the one suffering, and you are the one feeling angry, bitter, and resentful, all of which can become a form of hatred. These feelings can eat you up and make you miserable, and in some cases even alter your personality and the way you relate to others. Holding on to anger, bitterness, and resentment ultimately hurts you.
Forgiveness allows you to let go of these negative emotions that are holding you back so you can move on. There is often not a whole lot that can be done about the past and past hurts to make them right, but if you forgive others, you will receive healing that will enable you to move forward and leave the past behind.
Finding beauty for ashes
When you choose to forgive, it helps you to more quickly reach the realization and peace of knowing that everything that comes your way in life will ultimately work together for your good. Your experiences in life, and the choices you make through them, help make you into the person you are now and will be in the future.
When you experience loss, sadness, and difficulty, it can ultimately help to make you a better person, someone with more depth, love, and compassion. You understand the hard things in life, you understand pain, and it enables you to empathize with others and their pain. You genuinely feel for people. You also realize that these times of pain and difficulty, while hard, help to shape you and make you who you are.
However, if you refuse to forgive when you are hurt and entertain resentment and possibly bitterness, then you aren’t able to benefit and to receive My promise of beauty for ashes in your life.2 The effects instead are the opposite; they are negative, and they don’t bear the same healthy fruit in your life.
When you have forgiven someone, you are not saying that you have forgotten the bad, but you are making the choice to not hold it against them or against Me. You are taking the stance that you are willing to walk on to the brighter future that I have for you, that you are letting go of the past and its pain. You are trusting in Me and My promise to work everything you experience in this life to your good. You acknowledge that it may be difficult to forgive, but you know that through forgiving I can perform the healing in your life, and you want that healing.
Don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like forgiving. That’s human, that’s normal. And even if you feel that initially you are just doing “lip service” by saying that you forgive, that’s the first step. By saying that you are willing to forgive, even if you haven’t yet sorted everything out in your heart and mind, you are saying that you are willing to let Me begin My healing work in your life.
Another key to making that first step of deciding to forgive is not dwelling on the past and on the bad experiences. Make a conscious effort to not repeatedly relive the details and how the situation hurt you. Ask Me to help you put it behind you and to supernaturally transcend the natural inclination to keep reviewing it. By putting it behind you, you will benefit from the divine gift of forgiveness.
As you forgive others, I will heal your wounds and truly make things better for you.
Originally published August 2008. Adapted and republished September 2019.
Read by Jon Marc. Music by Michael Dooley.