“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18-21-22
If you have read any part of my story, you know life has not been easy. The thing is, chances are, life is not easy for you either. A few blog posts ago, I spoke about forgiving someone that ripped your life apart. This could be an ex spouse, someone who assaulted you, etc. The Bible says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10). Sometimes, the enemy uses people to do just that in your life, to steal, kill and destroy.
I’ve had my fair share of those in the last few years. I have never in my life had an issue with forgiveness until these things began to happen. I still don’t know what it is to hate, even today, I can honestly say hate is not an emotion I have ever experienced but I do know what it is like to be the recipient of someone else’s hate, I know that all too well.
People can post about forgiveness, it makes for a great quote and a wonderful hashtag on social media, right? But, in the real world, it is not that easy.
Forgivness is a process, it is not instant in most cases where real trauma has occurred. Sometimes it takes therapy, sometimes it takes letters, journals, songs and tears. This process can get painfully stalled when the person who hurt you still continues to hurt you today or at least attempts to do so.
Before we move on, let’s be clear about one thing: forgiveness does not excuse consequences. Forgiveness is a way of letting a person go so God can deal with the situation. You’re basically saying, “God, you take this thing on and you make a way where there seems to be none. Heal what has been broken in my life and work in the heart of this person.”
You’re releasing the person to God and you are being set free from not only the sting of pain but also their control.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Forgiveness releases them to God and yourself from the pain and their control.” quote=”Forgiveness releases them to God and yourself from the pain and their control. “]
Just wanted to be sure we were clear on that. A few weeks ago, I was praying and seeking God on this topic. I was struggling, I had forgiven these people but, the trauma was still impacting me. I kept thinking, “Lord, I’ve forgiven them already, why are these feelings coming back again? Why am I still dealing with this junk?”
Then, I read the verse above, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” – Matthew 18-21-22
Sometimes, forgiveness isn’t a one time thing.
Sometimes, forgiveness is an every single day thing.
Sometimes, forgiveness is a million times a day thing.
It’s every post, every Pinterest quote, every e-mail, every accidental run in at Target, sometimes, forgiveness will have to happen 77 times or more a day. And, that’s ok, just keep forgiving.
Do what you can to block what you see, protect yourself, protect your eyes and don’t let it get in your head. That being said, there are times the memories come back like a flood. There are times the darkness will remind you of what was once hidden, during those times, run to God and forgive again.
I’m not saying it’s ok to be a doormat, I’m not saying to let people terrorize your boundaries, abuse you or mistreat you. I’m actually saying the opposite of all of those things, deal with it legally if you need to. What I’m talking about here is forgiveness and sometimes, it has to happen more than just once. That doesn’t mean you didn’t do it right the first time, that doesn’t mean God isn’t working, just do it again.
The amount of times will lessen and the sting of pain will diminish until it finally just goes away.
I can tell my story now, I couldn’t do so before when the pain was so real and I could feel every moment of it. Now, I’m stronger, I have forgiven, I can look the other way, embrace my truth and share what I have learned to help those walking through the same thing.
You might have to forgive someone who is not sorry, someone who will never take responsibility and someone who might be living a double life, the social media life and the real life you see. I get that. You’re not alone. Forgive anyway.
Forgiveness isn’t about them, it’s about you.
Sarah Ann is an author, speaker and media personality committed to honesty, vulnerability and authenticity. She has a passion for empowering people who are willing to be honest and walk out life in Christ together, no masks and no curtains. Sarah holds a Masters in Theology and Apologetics, she also owns a clothing company, Ascent516.com, she is creator of SarahAnnSpeaks.com and the Sarah Ann Speaks Podcast and is featured daily on GEB TV.