I love Peter's experience of walking on the roaring sea with Jesus. But the thing is, Peter's story is often misunderstood. Do you have a step you need to take?
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As we get ready to dive into the third post in our Facing Forgiveness Series, I wanted to point new readers back to the first post (so you can follow-along). Also, you are invited to join the Step Out And Thrive Inner-Circle Facebook Group where we dive deeper into each post and get to know one another better. If you have been enjoying our weekly Forgiveness Interviews, you can connect with them inside of the group as well. Plus I go live every single week during the series
The Bible passage continued to roll through my mind as my stomach began to churn. I knew God was softening my heart to forgive, but just to be completely honest here – I wasn’t ready.
I had a clear understanding of who I needed to forgive. (see Facing Forgiveness Part 1)
God had been gently reminding me of His love and forgiveness displayed through Jesus Christ on the cross (see Facing Forgiveness Part 2)
So, what was stopping me?
I tried this forgiveness thing before. I experienced what I thought was freedom immediately after saying the words, but only temporary. Soon after forgiveness had left my lips, the pain of guilt, shame, anger, bitterness and resentment came flooding back into my heart like a hurricane. I rationalized that my faith was too weak and that obviously there was something wrong with me. I began to believe that my pain was just too much to be forgiven.
What a lie from the pit of hell itself. Seriously.
Can you just imagine the smile and even relief wiped all over satan’s face when I reached that conclusion? Satisfied that he no longer had to worry about another Christ-follower living out her God-given freedom and purpose.
And I lived stuck in this mindset for YEARS.
Years of feeling stuck, defeated, not measuring-up, helpless and honestly worthless.
I know I’m not the only one who has paid time into this lie because I’ve heard your stories. Satan’s lie has claimed so much of our lives and it ends right here. Right now. The line has been drawn.
Today, I want to uncover the Truth behind what forgiveness really is by sharing what forgiveness is not. Get ready to have your world rocked a little bit. I know the first time I began to really dive into these lies the enemy wants to tell us, I felt completely known and exposed. It was the first time I really came before God and admitted that I no longer had a clue what forgiveness was or how it worked. That’s exactly where God loves to bring us because then He can do the work in us that He has promised to do.
What work you ask?
Here is the passage that rolled through my heart and mind as I struggled to forgive the person behind each touch in my life that took my innocence away. In-between my tears I would re-read these verses:
“So, as God’s own chosen people, who are holy [set apart, sanctified for His purpose] and well-beloved [by God Himself], put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience [which has the power to endure whatever injustice or unpleasantness comes, with good temper]; bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.”
COLOSSIANS 3:12-13 AMP
I remember taking long walks or even flat our runs literally gritting my teeth reciting these words in my head. I would have conversations with God as I ventured alone through the streets of my neighborhood with my tears mixing in well with sweat. I wrestled with putting on this “heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” and I knew I had no intention of “enduring whatever injustice or unpleasantness” that had come or would come in my life.
Forgiveness felt completely unfair.
Did God really see the pain I had deep in my heart?
How was I supposed to do this?
Forgiveness was too hard.
Until I discovered what forgiveness was not.
DENIAL: This is the act of telling yourself that the hurt you felt really didn’t happen. It’s literally lying to yourself and can have devastating consequences (it can be hard to have close friendships when you are exposed to the pain of others that you have denied happened in your life). Lying to yourself by saying the painful event did not really happen does not keep the pain away, but it does prevent healing from beginning in your life.
REPRESSION: This is the act of stuffing our hurt and emotions down deep inside so that others on the outside believe that we are soldiering on through life. Most may call this “pulling yourself up by your boot straps” in a way. When we stuff our hurt inside, it remains deep inside of us and more times than not, the pain grows. In fact, Bob Hamp even shares that some clients he has witnessed walk into freedom from repression through forgiveness were healed from physical sickness as well. When we stuff, it prevents healing. It puts us in control rather than giving our “stuff” to God.
LETTING OUR OFFENDER RUN FREE: This was my belief of what forgiveness was and exactly what prevented me from entering freedom. Many of us believe that when we forgive the people that hurt us the most, that they are now set free from judgment and real justice. But the truth is that when we truly forgive, we place the entire situation into God’s hands – justice included. However, we should not forgive just to make God our “hit man.” No, we are called to fully surrender justice to God and trust that His way is best (much easier said than done believe me!).
FORGETTING: Forgiveness is not the radical ability to forget the incident of pain that occurred. Wouldn’t that be amazing if God did promise to do that? But the Truth is, when we take the time and the courage to journey through forgiveness, God will eventually allow us to see our pain in a new way. This is our real story and our testimony to others. We will be able to see God working in and through our forgiveness story.
BEING A DOORMAT: Forgiving is not allowing those that have hurt you in the past to continue to cross the line again without healthy confrontation. You, sweet friend, have irreplaceable value in God’s eyes. Boundaries are part of the healing and freedom journey.
At this point you may be thinking like I was – “Okay Bethany, so if this is what forgiveness is not, what exactly IS forgiveness?” Well guess what? That’s exactly where we are headed next week!
Bob Hamp: After sixteen years as a counselor in private practice, Bob Hamp joined the staff of Gateway Church to develop the Freedom Ministry as envisioned by Pastor Robert Morris. His definitions of what “forgiveness is not” is what I used to spin-off my interpretations for the list above.
Lifepoint Church Sermon Podcast: The first time I ever really allowed myself to hear the Truth behind forgiveness was through a sermon Pastor Troy Robinson preached called “The Hardest Thing You Will Ever Do.” Although the information he presented fell on my hard heart that day, I returned to the sermon months later and God used his words to crack my heart wide-open. There is no doubt in my mind I would not be doing this series or even walking along many in this freedom journey today if it were not for this sermon and my amazing friends at Lifepoint Church.
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Out of all the areas forgiveness is not, which area(s) can you relate to the most?
Hello and welcome to Step Out And Thrive Ministries! My name is Bethany Boring and I am proud to be called a child of God before any other title or role. I am a wife to Steve and a mom to 3 amazing boys. I enjoy writing for this Step Out And Thrive community and walking with you as we venture through the ups and downs of life together. I am an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor, Certified Human Behavioral Consultant (DISC Personality) and an author. As always - dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!
Facing Forgiveness: Video Interview With Tricia Grow
Facing Forgiveness: Video Interview With Cheryl Rucker
Facing Forgiveness: Face Your Pain
Facing Forgiveness: Video Interview With Heather Elise
Facing Forgiveness: Face Your Story