I think everyone at some point in their life struggles to forgive. They don't want to forgive because its hard, because that person doesn't deserve it, or because they are still hurting. Whatever the reason may be, we all find excuses not to forgive someone. Because lets be honest here. Forgiving is hard.
Let me tell you something though-- Forgiveness can be AMAZING! I have loved seeing God work in me to forgive and there was something that very much so helped me along the way.
It is in the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. If you know us Schottels, you know we swear by the Ransomed Heart Ministry and all the books that the Eldredges write.
Just a little background on the book, Captivating talks about the dreams of a woman's soul. "She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the beauty of the story.... The message of Captivating is this: Your heart matters more than anything else in all creation... God offers to come now as the Hero of your story, to rescue your heart and release you to live as a fully alive and feminine woman. A woman who is truly captivating."
I couldn't agree more. I am now going through this book for the third time and it has spoken to me in new ways every time. The part that really hit home this time was Chapter Six: Healing the Wound. It gets real, and it gets vulnerable. I truly believe that becoming vulnerable during forgiveness leads to big healing of your heart.
Captivating page 104:
"Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col 3:13)"
"Now- listen carefully. Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling- don't try and feel forgiving. It is an act of the will. "Don't wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving," wrote Neil Anderson. "You will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made." We allow God to bring the hurt up from our past, for "if your forgiveness doesn't visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete," said Anderson. We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we chose to extend forgiveness to our fathers, our mothers, those who hurt us. This is not saying, "It didn't really matter." ; it is not saying, "I probably deserved part of it anyways." Forgiveness says, "It was wrong Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you. I give you to God I will not be your captive here any longer."
It might help to remember that those who hurt you were also deeply wounded themselves. They were broken hearts, broken when they were young, and they fell captive to the Enemy. They were in fact pawns in his hands. This doesn't absolve them of the choices they made, the things they did. It just helps us to let them go- to realize that they were shattered souls themselves, used by our true Enemy in his war against femininity."
Forgiveness isn't weak. It is strong. SO strong. It is you admitting hey that hurt me and it impacted me. It is giving it to God, giving your pain to Him and letting Him come into your heart and heal you. It takes time, it is definitely not an overnight process. But it is a choice. A choice you can make daily to give your pain, bitterness, and anger over to God and slowly but surely let him restore and heal your heart.