I Said I Forgive You but I Really Didn’t Mean It (Pt: 1)
Have you ever experienced conflict and/or offense that left a sour taste in your mouth? You thought you had moved past what happened however, that occurrence pops back up into your mind now your emotions, thoughts and demeanor are on heightened alert. As a result, you begin to feel as if you are reliving the entire experience all over again. Even though the occurrence happened six months ago or for some of us, many years ago in that moment, you start feeling some type of way. If you find yourself in this state I submit to you that the entire time you just have been suppressing and downplaying the offense in your heart. Which brings me to the bigger question - when you said “I forgive you” to the offender(s) did you speak it from your heart or your mouth?
I know you are thinking:
“Larisha, you don’t understand they hurt me there’s no coming back from that”;
“what good is it to have a conversation now it happened so long ago?”;
“I’m doing just fine - I’m living my best life”;
“No, I’m really over it I just still can’t believe it happened”;
“I don’t think I can face this head on so it’s better to just forget about it”;
“how do I know that it won’t happen again so its best that I keep my distance?”
From personal experience, I know this is a difficult space to be in as I have wrestled with all of these thoughts in the past but internally it kept me bound in a state of un-forgiveness, bitterness even resentment long after the offense had occurred. In today’s society, we often see conflict/chaos rising at a very alarming rate. At some point in our lives, we will be faced with an experience that will challenge us and require that we extend forgiveness or ask someone else to forgive us.
PAUSE ---- I want to dispel a myth about forgiveness - choosing forgiveness does not mean you are foolish or weak.
Colossians 3:13 states “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”. I realize that sometimes words and/or actions can sting and do more harm than good, but when conflict arises each person has a part in the reconciliation process.
So what happens when you are unable to forgive others?
Un-forgiveness will take a toll on your mind, body, and spirit by:
impacting your peace of mind;
creating an entryway to anger, bitterness, resentment, jealousy even pride;
exhausting yourselves and others by rehashing the offense over and over again (at some point do yourself a favor and stop repeating the same story over and over to whoever will listen);
creating division amongst families, friends, the church, the workplace, communities, culture even our nation (Ephesians 6:12);
impacting our intimate relationship with God (it’s difficult to connect and hear clearly from Him with a bitterness on your heart); and
allowing the enemy of our soul to regulate your mind and interactions with others (John 10:10).
Forgiveness is truly most beneficial to you even though you are extending it to someone else! Never allow any individual or situation/circumstance have so much power over you that bitterness, anger, resentment, and un-forgiveness begins to manifest in your heart. In Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus instructs us to forgive others over and over again just like He does for us. Why? God’s forgiveness does not run out, therefore, His children extending forgiveness others should not run out either. Granted forgiveness is a process however, it is doable!
Given that the topic of forgiveness is very rich I will share with you answers to the question of the hour - how do I forgive and move forward once and for all in a follow up post. Stay tuned for part two of this discussion and I will share with you a personal experience when I told someone I forgive you but on the inside I didn’t mean it. Lastly, I share some biblical stories of forgiveness and walk you through practical steps that I have learned and do in my own life.
On a scale of (1-10), with 10 representing your ability to forgive immediately, how would you rate your ability to forgive others?
2. What are your thoughts about the concept of forgiveness?
If you would like to have more resources on this topic or if you have a prayer request please feel to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Share your comments/thoughts/reflections below!
Larisha Y. Warner