“But, I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:4
Sometimes, in the quiet, it’s easy for the hard times and the hurt to sneak up on you. While you’re waiting and thinking and trying to keep yourself occupied, Satan has a way of reminding you of every awful thing others have done to you. You might be trying to distract yourself and stay positive, but the list keeps coming back, haunting you, stirring up anxiety and anger.
The irony to holding on to these hurts and remembering them is that it’s not hurting anyone else. It’s only hurting you. You are the one allowing yourself to be bombarded with un-forgiveness and anger. Saint Augustine once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Isn’t that so true? We keep a long list of hurts and resentments, and it’s only eating us from the inside out. The other person most likely has no idea! They don’t realize the depth of hurt, or the occurrence was so long ago that they don’t even remember.
So, what are you going to do? How are you going to deal with this if it’s only hurting you and holding you back from being content. It’s separating you from hope and peace. If you want to move on, you need to work on letting go.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus addresses his disciples and the crowds with his Sermon on the Mount where he pours out a vast amount of truth and teaching. In his teachings, he shakes the norm on so many things, in particular on revenge and how to handle your enemies. He doesn’t say to simply forget and move on with your life. He says to love your enemies and pray for them. Feeling a little guilty over those hateful thoughts?
This is not an easy task. It takes time, healing, and the power of God, but today, I’m going to give you a couple practical steps to start your journey of forgiveness.
This option probably sounds like a no-brainer. Of course, you need to pray for your enemies, but maybe you need to be a little more intentional. The more you pray for others, the less anger you should hold onto because you’re seeing them through God’s eyes. They are his children. No matter how awful they have been, He still loves them. Pray and watch your heart change.
Letters of Forgiveness
Sometimes, it’s helpful to get your thoughts and feelings on paper. If there is someone who has hurt you and you need to feel a “release” in your anxiety, take time to write them a letter. This is not necessarily meant to send to them. Remember, if the hurt is from long ago, they may have no idea, and the letter writing is to obtain your own peace with forgiveness. Write them a letter and be honest about how you feel and then present it to God in prayer. This is another opportunity to see how God can change your heart.
Switch Your Thoughts
Forgiveness is going to be a battle and isn’t going to happen overnight. If you’ve been in the habit of thinking poorly about someone or allowing hate to fester inside, you’re going to need to be very intentional and adamant about switching your thoughts when that person comes to mind. When a poor thought comes to mind, you need to ask God for forgiveness first and then do your best to think about other things. It’s not going to help you at all to have past situations running through your mind.
I want to encourage you to try these things when you feel anger and un-forgiveness creep in while you wait. We serve a God who can do anything so run to Him because he knows what is best!