When I got divorced. I felt rejected and unlovable and my future didn’t feel very bright. Honestly, feeling so unlovable and depressed made it hard not to feel somewhat bitter and resentful about my circumstances. I was angry with my ex and angry with God. I would listen to people talk about forgiveness and I would cry. And not just a few tears. I would really cry for a long time, wishing I could let go of the ongoing story in my mind about how my ex hurt me and feel truly free.
I don’t think about it as much anymore. The main reason I kept bringing it up in my mind over and over again is because I BELIEVED the negative things my ex said about me. Going over the painful story of what happened in my mind was my way of trying to disprove what my ex said about me. I wanted to believe I was a person who was lovable and valuable and normal but kept thinking – what if the things he said are true? What if I really am abnormal? Would everyone reject me?
The thing is as much as the comments hurt, they don’t have to define who I am. I can choose to remember what the Lord says about me instead of believing the crap other humans say. Christ thought I was valuable enough to suffer and die for. He feels the same way about you. (To learn more about what the Bible says about how God sees you, read Our True Identity)
Seeing a Glimmer of Hope
Another reason I had so much trouble letting go of the past was the hopelessness I felt. Like life was dark and I’d never feel happiness again.
One day at church, I heard a pastor talk about the story of Joseph in the Bible (Genesis 37-50). Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and then thrown in prison because his slavemaster’s wife falsely accused him of rape. He was in prison for years. He had every reason to be resentful of his circumstances! But he wasn’t. After many years, he was released and became governor of all of Egypt. A famine came and Joseph’s intervention saved thousands of lives. Including the lives of his brothers who sold him into slavery in the first place. Instead of retaliating against his brothers, Joseph talked kindly with them and gave them the food they needed. He told them “What you meant to harm me, God meant for good to save the lives of many people.”
THAT is the key. It is horrible the way people hurt each other in this fallen world. But, that is NOT the ending. Whatever others do to harm us, there will come a day when something good will be brought out of it. No matter how dark it feels right now, you won’t feel hopeless forever.
If you are struggling to forgive someone, please don’t give up. It’s hard, I know. It can feel like you want to let go and just can’t. It’s common to feel that way. It can take time for your feelings to line up with your actions and your will. Keep praying for those who hurt you, keep trying to let it go, keep reminding yourself of your value, keep holding onto hope. Eventually, your feelings will change for the better, but it will take persistent effort. You’ve been hurt enough already, please don’t hurt yourself even more by going over what happened again and again in your mind like I did.
Knowing that Christ suffered to forgive and heal me can also encourage me to keep going in the struggle to forgive. To read more about that, please click here.