Have you ever been so hurt by someone, done so wrong, lied to, betrayed, offended, stolen from, cheated- or worse- that you knew you would never be able to forgive them? When you feel with all your heart that they don’t deserve your forgiveness- and probably couldn’t care less if you did.
It’s even more difficult when they aren’t the least bit sorry about what they did. Not only is it hard to forgive some things- sometimes it is harder to even want to forgive.
You can forgive anyone for anything- and I know how.
Many years ago, when I went into the wonderful program of Alcoholics Anonymous (if you think you might be an alcoholic, you will never find a better way to turn that around) I was carrying a deep resentment.
The woman I was married to at that time had had an affair. I forgave her because I loved her. But the dude- no. Not ever. I didn’t know him, but I knew one thing about him, and I was not going to ever forget it or forgive it. The only thing I ever intended was to provide him with a royal butt whipping if I ever got the chance.
When you get into the AA program, you learn how to let all these resentments go. As my sponsor told me, resentment is the first thing that will make you want to drink again. I told him this dude had never apologized to me, he had no right to do what he did, and he was, in my mind the lowest, sorriest person to ever come into my life.
No, he did not deserve my forgiveness, and he was never going to get it.
My sponsor explained to me that he likely knew nothing about how I felt, and even if he did, he probably didn’t care. It didn’t make any difference in his life how I felt- whether I forgave him or not. I had to forgive him for me. For my peace of mind, for my spiritual and emotional life. For my sobriety.
But how? I hate this person. I do NOT want to forgive him. My sponsor then told me that he knew how to do this: I would pray for this person everyday.
He said I promise you if you pray for him everyday- within 30 days you will forgive him. At first the prayers will not be sincere, he advised, but you just keep doing it and it will work.
Highly skeptical and doubting, but understanding the need to let this resentment go, I tried it out. At first the prayers were very insincere, as I sarcastically asked God to bless this person, to help him in his life, to help him find happiness and peace.
After about two weeks of doing this, as I prayed for him- I was shocked to find out that it WAS working. I was so stunned I immediately quit doing it.
But eventually, I got back around to it and eventually forgave him. It was wonderful to have the burden of that anger and resentment out of my life.
Jesus had a lot to say about forgiveness, and one of the most stark messages about forgiving others is this statement:
Matthew 6: 14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Having learned this lesson, Peter reasoned there surely must be some limits to this forgiveness. I mean, we are not suckers. Okay- forgive someone their wrongs, but what if they just take advantage of that and play you for a fool over and over:
Matthew 18: 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
In other words, everytime. We are to forgive everyone for everything- everytime.
Matthew 5: 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Many of you no doubt remember the story of Amber Guyger last year. She was a police officer. One night she came home and went into the wrong apartment. Upon finding a person in the apartment, the resident Botham Jean, she shot and killed him. After her trial, in which she was convicted for is murder, the victim’s brother, Brandt Jean, stunned the court and the world, by asking the judge if he could give Amber a hug.
It was truly one of the most beautiful acts of forgiveness I have ever witnessed. What a great man he is to be willing to forgive after what this woman did to his brother, his family, and him. What faith and understanding of what God expects us to do. He truly is a child of God.
You can forgive anyone for anything. I promise. And you can do it in 30 days.