Have you ever been in prison? I have. The prison of unforgiveness held me captive for many years. When people think of unforgiveness, thoughts of forced captivity rarely surface. Refusing however, to extend forgiveness actually holds you in the prison of bitterness, resentment and pain. Resulting in the sad reliving of the offense. Regrettably, I spent many years in the prison of unforgiveness before receiving the powerful freedom found in forgiveness.
An egregious offense of more than twenty years ago plagued me through nightmares and vivid mental replays. With racing heart and eyes wide open, the tenseness of my body held me motionless in the dark each time the memory reel began.
As each facet of the agonizing memory crowded my mind, through clenched teeth, I vowed never to forgive; as if my vow held the power of punishment.
no freedom in forgiveness
Though not a Christian at the time of the offense, I later came to know Christ as my Savior. With every haunting visit from the past, the Holy Spirit whispered “The Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)
Poisoned by anger and bitterness, my heart refused the offer of the freedom found in forgiveness, dismissing the Spirit’s words from my mind every time.
God continued his pursuit of me through the Holy Spirit, gently confronting me with my need to forgive my offender. Though possessing an intellectual understanding of forgiveness, my deceived heart believed forgiveness meant the offender went “unpunished”.
There is no freedom in forgiveness for me if it invalidates my suffering and releases the offender. Holding fast to this lie also kept the lock on the self-imposed prison cell shut tight.
god’s powerful intervention
Gradually, the Lord revealed at a basic level, by refusing forgiveness I attempted to ensure that my suffering exists and matters. But ultimately, choosing forgiveness releases hurt, anger, bitterness and resentment, healing my suffering.
Hiding behind a tough facade of false confidence, neat appearance and cynicism, I traversed the battlefield of forgiveness unrelenting, until one life changing encounter with God.
Join me at Living By Design, as I share my story of forgiveness; the day I learned the truth of the powerful freedom found in forgiveness. God stepped into my life with an unforgettable lesson, changing the way I viewed forgiveness forever.