It’s hard for me to let go of things.
Maybe it’s a personality thing, but some people seem to get over things quicker than I can. Like a fairy that can only hold one emotion at a time, one moment they are upset and the next thing you know they have moved on. I’m more like a pit bull. Once I bite down on a feeling, it’s hard for me to let go of my death clench, especially when someone has wronged me. I like to think it’s my strong sense of justice but really I just struggle with bitterness.
Clichés like “let go and let God” and “forgive and forget” are not helpful. I want to trust God and forgive others as I’ve been forgiven, but forgiveness has not always come easy for me, especially when those close to me hurt me. I want to forget, but does that mean I pretend like it never happened? Where is the justice in that?
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13).
I know I should put to death my sin of unforgiveness. The fact that I am forgiven should be the best motivator, but I still struggle to forgive. It’s just hard to let go.
If forgiveness is freeing, the flip side to forgiveness is bitterness, which only leads to spiritual torment.
When the disciples asked Jesus how many times they were to forgive someone, his answer was 77 times (Matt. 18:22). Was Jesus giving us the exact number we should forgive someone? Seven is symbolic for perfection, but I think the point here is that forgiveness is continual. It’s not as easy as “forgive and forget”. So why should we forgive? Because God commands it, and forgiveness is actually in our favor.
According to the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant, if we do not forgive from the heart the result seems to be spiritual torture (Matt. 18:35). Yes, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven, but not because the other person deserves it. If we don’t forgive, bitterness will eat away at our souls. Sin on top of sin does not solve the problem.
Bitterness is spiritually deteriorating, but true love overcomes fear.
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).
When others hurt us, we don’t have to fear the pain, but we do have to forgive. And there is hope. God forgives our sins, but he is also just and sees your pain. Vengeance belongs to God and He will repay evil for evil (Rom. 12:19). Forgiveness is not the same as forgetting, but we are not to add to evil with our bitterness. So strive to forgive daily and trust God with the rest.