A while ago my family took a trip to an indoor amusement park. While we were there, we jumped onto the bumper cars and spent the next 5 minutes bashing into one another, laughing and trying to cram each other's cars into the corner of the ride. It was a ton of fun.
Life is a lot like that, albeit not always fun. When you have people living together in a community there is a lot of “bashing” into each other, emotionally speaking. It's impossible for people to live within a family, a church, a dorm, or a school and not get hurt from time to time. And while there's no way to avoid an occasional clash with another person, there is a solution. It's called forgiveness.
A lot of people struggle with the concept of forgiveness. It's tough to forgive a person that has hurt you, however, it's one of the most important characteristics to learn in life. So, here are three ideas to help you learn how to forgive others.
1—Recognize Your Own Forgiveness
If you are a believer in Christ, you have been forgiven. According to the Bible, if you have confessed your sin to God and believe in Jesus you are totally, 100% forgiven of everything bad you've ever done and every bad thing you'll ever do. That's big! Think of it, every evil or lustful thought, every moment of anger, jealousy, or pride—it's all taken care of. Your slate is clean before God and He's even forgotten about it (Isaiah 43:25).
And remember something—you didn't do anything to earn that. That was completely free, just like a cosmic “get out of jail” card. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
The recognition of forgiveness should create humility in your life, and humility is essential in forgiving others. Pride is usually what gets in the way of forgiving another person. When we hold a grudge it's usually because we want to stay in control of the relationship—like holding some bit of power over the other person.
I get it, it's not easy to forgive someone if you've been hurt. But you will only damage yourself by holding onto a long-standing grudge. Grudges are a cancer of the soul.
When you humble yourself and forgive another person, you're relieving them of their fault, and you're also setting down your grudge. It's a powerful thing.
3—Let The Past be the Past
The famous actress Lilly Tomlin once said, “Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” Once you have forgiven someone you should do your best to never bring up the situation again.
In Jeremiah 31:34, God tells the remnant of Israel, “For I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sins no more.”
As humans, we are not capable of truly forgetting. We're not able to “forgive and forget.” But we are able to forgive and say silent. This is how we do our best to be Godly. Think of it, if you have truly forgiven another person there is no reason to bring up past wrongs. If you do, it's a sign that you haven't forgiven another person sincerely.
Many people that I talk to find it nearly impossible to forgive certain people. Longstanding family feuds, rejection, and abuse make up some of the more difficult situations to exercise forgiveness. But we have to remember, if God has forgiven everything that we have done against him, how can we hold back our forgiveness from others?
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
While you may not be able to forgive others in your own power, you can do it through His power. If you are having trouble with forgiveness, seek the help of God. Ask him for the strength to overcome your pride and help you forgive others.
If you have been dealing with the longstanding effects of rejection or abuse, and it's more than you can bear, seek the help of a trusted friend, pastor, or a professional counselor.
With God's help, you can learn to forgive.