Forgiveness on Repeat

I’ve been sharing part of my testimony recently and so my mind keeps going back to my story. Thinking on it this morning, I suddenly had an uncomfortable memory flash across both my mind and heart. A friend had hurt me during the roughest part of our heavy trials. Today, what she did seems so minor, yet a trickle of disappointment still flows. I was accused of something I knew deeply in my heart I was innocent from. And even more hurtful was the lack of compassion or mercy for the heavy circumstances we were facing. I considered her a dear friend and was heartbroken over her reaction to something that should have been minor. Once again, I choose to forgive her as the memories surface.

In Celebrate Recovery, we often remind ourselves that “hurt people, hurt people.” As I think on it, although she knew somewhat we were facing terrible trials at the time, she didn’t truly understand nor have the capacity within her to have the empathy I needed. Most likely, she was dealing with her own fears, worries and heartaches beyond her control. In reality, we don’t know but a very speck of a person’s life. Generally, most deep hurts are not shared with others. Sometimes we don’t even understand the fullness of our own pain!

I have since forgiven her. In fact, I have had peace regarding this person for many years now. I have learned to pray for her whenever she comes to mind. I made it a practice for years that whenever I faced a difficult situation, I prayed she would be protected from what I was dealing with. This gave me great freedom!

As memories flow, I need to continue the forgiving process. I wonder if this is partly why Jesus said we needed to forgive seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:22) Scripture tells us that we won’t be forgiven if we don’t forgive others. (Read on in Matthew 18 about the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant!) And it’s a richer treasure than that. Forgiveness is a gift we receive and give not only to others, but ourselves. This is my theory: Unforgiveness is a type of stuffing. It’s adding more unnecessary burden to our souls in attempt to control. Control is another way of playing God, an act of pride! No wonder we lack peace when we hold onto grudges!

It’s not wise to stuff all the hard memories and pretend them away. Stuffed feelings have a way of producing bigger issues such as depression, anxiety or temptation to escape reality with unhealthy vices. When someone hurts us, we still admit the pain felt. So when memories surface, we continue to look at it in the light of Christ. We look at all sides: What did that person do that caused me to fear or have resentment? What was my part in the situation? Could I have handled it better? Confess those wrongs to the One who loves you most. (Your Creator!) At the same time, we must forgive the person who harmed us as well as ourselves. We must trust in the great forgiveness of Christ.

As soon as we recognize our part in the matter, it’s important to find a way to make amends as long as it doesn’t cause more harm. (Be prayerfully discerning; it would be easy to deceive ourselves and look for a way to ignore it. At the same time, there are some incidents it would be super unwise to approach the person we harmed.) In the meantime, make amends to the Lord, because when we hurt his children, his creation, we hurt him. As memories repeat themselves, continue to forgive again and again. It’s another way of allowing your mind to be transformed, not as the world, but as Christ would have it. Eventually, the memories become less painful. Instead of a flood of pain, they turn into a tiny trickle. Instead of the big deal it was, it becomes minor. It takes time and patience, just as healing in our physical bodies take time.

I also believe forgiving seventy-seven times refers to forgiving others even if they repeatedly hurt you or even simply annoy you. I’m not sure Jesus was being literal here, but figurative. If they harm you eighty times or a thousand times, continue to forgive! We can practice this everyday in our families or work places. Is there someone in your life who continually irritates you? Think about an everyday situation your husband or child does. Do you practice grace with them over dirty laundry not put away or dishes not brought to the kitchen? The more we forgive annoyances, the less they become irritating. As we practice forgiveness again and again and even again, we experience the love of the Father and his repeating forgiveness as well. Flow in his love and have peace.

-Eve Garrison

*Verse images created with You Version Bible app

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2 thoughts on “Forgiveness on Repeat

  1. Hannah G. says:

    Let’s remember too, if we are counting: 1…2…3…4…5…etc. the number of times a person repeats a sin against us – then we didn’t forgive them the first time. Forgiveness is not holding a debt or grudge against a person. So only forgiving a person 77 times is IMPOSSIBLE because it would require counting which means not forgiving. Haha! 😀

    • Eve says:

      Interesting thought. Forgiveness is not forgetting though, in the sense that we consider forgetfulness. In some instances we may forget it completely. On the other hand, we can still have memories triggered from others’ actions. But we are still responsible to forgive repeatedly even as past memories come to surface.

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