Monday, 11 May 2020

Learning to Forgive - Freeing Yourself from Resentment and Bitterness

Beautiul gates and spring flowers

As a Christian it is important that I spend time reading, praying and working through my issues to try and help myself become more like Jesus. It's a really high bar to meet and I suspect I'll never get there, but that won't stop me trying.

It's been 18 years now since I found my faith and it is amazing, an absolute miracle to me, how much I have changed. I know that people who knew me as a teenager or in my twenties would be surprised by the person I have become, but I hope the surprise would be a good one. I know that my character is far improved from the angry, aggressive, prideful and competitive person I was.

I'm not without issues though. Oh no, not by a long shot and I still find myself going back to unhealthy and sinful behaviours. The biggest one for me being, overeating and turning to food for fulfilment, rather than to Jesus. Of course, I've known I need to work on this and I have been trying for many years, but I find it so difficult.

I haven't really been able to understand why I couldn't conquer this harmful addiction to overeating and to be honest it would take hours to detail here all my musings on this topic from the last couple of decades.  I have been aware that I am holding on to the fat and that it is me, who is not wanting to let it go, almost as if it is a protective layer, a shield against what I might need to face if I dare to become slimmer.

I know this will sound crazy to some of you reading this and that's OK. I think you need to have gone through similar to understand the situation. But, finally, through reading, praying and a lot of talking with a wonderful lady who listens to me witter on and challenges my thinking, I feel I am ready. Ready to invest in me, to shed the protective layer and to move forward, without any barriers and I wanted to share with you what I felt the key was that has helped me unlock this desire to change and to progress,

It is forgiveness. Being willing and able to look back on my past and to examine all the people and situations that I need to work through and forgive. This also includes forgiving myself. Over the last five years or so I've worked hard in this area and I have come to realise that forgiveness is not a one-time thing. It could be that I have to forgive some people every day for the rest of my life.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgive you" Ephesians 4:32

In the last five years, I had visions about being set free, about my chains being cut, I've attended a Freedom in Christ course and I've had lots of meetings with my Christian life coach where she challenges me, but it was reading Total Forgiveness by R.T.Kendall recently that gave me the last piece of the puzzle. The one that has made me feel ready to move forward.

Window with view and book on windowsil

I wanted to share with you some of the wisdom from the book, as it is relevant whether you are a Christian or not. I think we all recognise that when we harbour a grudge, it is us that feels the pain. It is us that lives with the resentment and the bitterness every day. It is only us who are kept in an unhealthy place and feel like we restrained and chained up. The person that the resentment is aimed at very often has no idea and certainly doesn't hurt from it. So we need to let go and in letting go we start to feel the reward, a sense of peace enters our heart and we can breath easy again.

"If you hate you will give them your heart and mind. Don't give those two things away" Nelson Mandela

Key learnings from the book -
  • We only hurt ourselves when we dwell on what happened to us
  • The person who hurt you may never be found out and they may never pay for what they did, but that is not our concern
  • Total forgiveness can be painful, it may hurt as we kiss revenge goodbye
  • It is always unhealthy to repress what happened to us. You may think the pain of remembering will be worse, but the pain does not go away by stuffing the hurt down, it is still there. So it is always good to acknowledge what happened and to work through it
  • There does not have to be a reconciliation for there to be forgiveness and the resulting peace that comes from that forgiveness
  • Total forgiveness is a choice, it may not feel easy, but it is necessary
  • However, once we have practised forgiveness on a regular basis for the same hurt, we should find it turns into a feeling of forgiveness and won't be a painful choice any longer
  • Sometimes you'll need to forgive God too, as you may feel as if He allowed the hurtful thing to happen
  • Once we have forgiven, we must not speak of the hurt any longer to others. It is not up to us to keep an account of the wrongs done to us.
  • We must not try to punish those who hurt us; there is no need to make them feel guilty, intimated or scared
  • In fact, if you're a Christian, you are expected to pray for those you have forgiven. For them to be blessed and to prosper
  • Forgiveness does not have any emotional benefit for us until we can forgive our part in the situation. Forgiving ourself if just as important, as forgiving others
  • No-one said forgiveness would be easy
  • Not judging is already the beginnings of forgiveness
  • Not forgiving is an invitation for the devil to get in. Bitterness is the perfect place for him to reside
  • As a Christian, it is extremely important to me that in the Lord's prayer it says (in the contemporary version) "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Thus, assuming that we will forgive and in turn, we will be forgiven 
  • Honesty and humility play important parts in the act of forgiveness

"It is my experience that nine out of ten people I have had to forgive sincerely do not feel they have done anything wrong. It is up to me to forgive them from my heart - and then keep quiet about it" R.T Kendall, Total Forgiveness P63

I hope you've found this post helpful. It's been useful for me to go over everything again as I am writing it. As I've mentioned a few times the process of total forgiveness really is an ongoing thing, one that I am having to practise again and again. But already, I am feeling the difference in my relationship with some specific people and also with my nemesis, food!

Be blessed friends, Mich x


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