Many times, in life, we meet people who hurt us. Many times, we also hurt others. If we and they hold on to that hurt, we will all constantly be resentful and angry. Life will become unbearable. We will lose our peace – all the time. We will forever think of how they hurt us and they will forever think of how we hurt them. Revenge may not be too far from our thoughts. Sometimes, we may even decide to enact our plans of revenge, supposing that revenge will help us to stop hurting. But, in truth, revenge is not the answer. Forgiveness and not remembering the wrongs are the answer.
Many people say that forgiveness is not the same thing as forgetting. While that may be a realistic explanation of how human memory works, I think that humans are still able to intently work on not remembering the wrongs of others – which can work hand-in-hand with forgiveness. I don’t know if a person can completely forget a wrong done to them, but they do not have to keep living in a perpetual state of remembering that wrong. When this state of perpetual remembering of wrongs takes place, a person enters into a very dark place. This place is one of re-living the wrongs done to us over and over again – it is like getting hurt over and over again in an endless cycle of pain.
TO BREAK THIS CYCLE OF PAIN, 2 THINGS NEED TO HAPPEN:
- We need to stop remembering the wrongs that others have done to us – this is not to say that we erase the wrongs from our long-term memories, but we need to stop recalling these wrongs in our everyday conversations and our daily thoughts.
- We need to forgive those who have done us wrong – by not wishing harm upon them and not wanting to take revenge on them. We don’t have to pray for them right way until we heal – and this part is a tough balance!
HOW CAN WE ACCOMPLISH THESE 2 THINGS?
We need to be intentional about our prayers to forgive and stop remembering the wrongs. If we decide to make an effort to pray, we might pray for things unrelated to our deepest wounds. I think that we typically pray what we are supposed to pray. At the same time, we hold on to our hurts in ways that keep us in bondage. We keep the prisons of our heart tightly shut and locked. We keep incubating the hurt and the pain we experienced from people. We don’t always want to let go of it in prayer. Perhaps we know that if we pray about our hurt to God, He will actually help us and heal us! Yet, we become silent about those in prayer. Do we not want to heal? Do we not want freedom from that pain and anger in us?
I think that, sometimes, we don’t want God to know about our deepest sins – the ones that are incubating deep inside of us and about which no one knows except us. Maybe we like those feelings we get when we remember the wrongs of others! This seems ironic because we claim that we don’t want to feel the pain of their hurt, but if we look at those feelings as temptations and sinful desires, the picture makes more sense. It is tempting to wish revenge upon another person instead of forgiving them. It is tempting to blame another person for our anger instead of trying to ask God to heal us from this anger in His own way. So, when “the rubber meets the road” when we pray and we are faced with our options: “Anger vs. no anger?”, perhaps we actually like being angry and resentful, just like we might like overeating, drinking, or lustful thoughts.
Perhaps we don’t want freedom, so we keep our anger and resentment safe. We claim that we want healing from the hurt of others, yet we constantly remember the hurt and we do not let go. We become slaves to our sins. In Christianity, the Bible states that we can become enslaved and in bondage to our sins. In psychology, there is a claim that people can become attached, in a sick way, to their abusers (abusers here are analogous to our sins). If our abusers are the sins we keep inside, like the remembering of the wrongs of others, we may become attached, in a sick way, to these sins and have a hard time letting them go.
I WONDER WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF WE PRAY LIKE THIS:
“My dear Lord, I thank You for revealing to me the deepest sins in my heart, the sins that keep me in bondage and separated from You. Thank You for helping me to see that I cannot forgive ____(name of person who hurt me)_____. Thank You for helping me understand that I keep recalling and reliving the wrongs of _____. I have strong feelings of anger, resentment, and even hate towards _____. I know that these feelings are not pleasing to You. Today, and now, I am asking You to help me forgive _____ and stop remembering their wrongs. I cannot do this on my own, because my real intentions and desires are to take revenge on ____. So, without Your grace, peace, love, and hope, I will forever remain entangled in my hatred and anger. I will not find peace until You free me through your grace, love, and true and pure forgiveness. God, teach me how to forgive like you do. Teach me not to keep reliving the wrongs of others and help me stop rekindling my anger towards them everyday. You are able, but I am not – I am weak and sinful. Guide me to find peace towards that person and help me reach a point when I can pray for ______ instead of wishing them harm. Amen.”
Maybe, miracles will happen.