“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
One of the real aspects of the single journey (or in anyone's life!) is the aspect of forgiveness. Unfortunately though, as I grow older in this single journey I see more and more single women who have grown bitter overtime and hold onto pain and anger at those who they believe "got away" or at boys or men who have hurt them someway in the past. Often times I have listened with sadness as I have heard these women say something to the affect of, "all of that unforgiveness will go away when I meet someone new". Sadly this is just not the case. While it is unfortunate that we live in a world where heartbreak and hurt happen, it is our responsibility to handle those situations with forgiveness with the Lord's help.
Scripture clearly states that we are to forgive others. Ephesians 4:31-32 states that we should “get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
I know that all of us do not want to be women who hold onto unforgiveness. We want to be free to love anyone who comes into our path and live in freedom as we forgive like God has forgiven us. (Colossians 3:13) I truly believe that forgiveness is extremely difficult. When I hear of tragedies that have happened in the world or hear stories of those who have been hurt in past relationships that are walking in forgiveness I know that these women (and men) have truly walked the road of forgiveness. It is a daily sacrificing and placing any and all injustices that have happened in the Lord's hands.
Years ago a documentary movie called, "As We Forgive" was released and it is one of the most profound movies ever made on this tender subject of forgiveness. When I was teaching High School History I used to show this film to my students. The premise of the movie is "could you forgive a person who murdered your family?" The website describes the movie by the following:
"This is the question faced by the subjects of As We Forgive, a documentary about Rosaria and Chantal- two Rwandan women coming face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The subjects of As We Forgive speak for a nation that is still wracked by the grief of a genocide that killed one in eight Rwandans in 1994. Overwhelmed by an enormous backlog of court cases, the government has returned over 50,000 genocide perpetrators back to the very communities they helped to destroy. Without the hope of full justice, Rwanda has turned to a new solution: Reconciliation. But can it be done? Can survivors truly forgive the killers who destroyed their families? Can the government expect this from its people? And can the church, which failed at moral leadership during the genocide, fit into the process of reconciliation today? In As We Forgive, director Laura Waters Hinson and narrator Mia Farrow explore these topics through the lives of four neighbors once caught in opposite tides of a genocidal bloodbath, and their extraordinary journey from death to life through forgiveness."
I can't encourage y'all enough to watch this movie (or at least spend two minutes and watch the trailer which you can find here.) It will truly change your perspective on the idea of forgiveness. If you are also looking for a book to read on this subject I can't recommend enough the book, "One Light Still Shines". You can read my review of it here if you are interested in learning more, but the book shows the incredible impact forgiveness plays not only ourselves but on our community. Finally, a book entitled, Total Forgiveness, by R.T. Kendall is a challenging and helpful book on this tender subject.
Forgiveness, as I mentioned is not easy but forgiveness does free us to live fully in the grace that God offers and allows us to freely love the people that the Lord brings into our lives. There is no expectation then placed on someone coming into our lives that they will help us "move past" unforgiveness but instead that we will be able to fully love them for who they are. Only God, not a person can help us with forgiving others.
If you are struggling through unforgiveness in any area in your life I encourage you to find a loving friend or counselor to help you work through this area. I am praying for you sweet friends that you will find comfort, encouragement, and freedom as you walk through this area! In my book, "Prayers for the Single Journey" I have the following prayer to help us work through any unforgiveness in our hearts. I have put it here to help as a starting point. May you be blessed sweet friends.
I want to take time Lord to ask your help in forgiving (name the person specifically) for the hurts that they have caused in past relationships. I want to forgive (name the person specifically) for the damage to my feelings and to my heart for the way that they ended our relationship. I want to forgive (name the person specifically) them completely and fully Lord and turn that relationship over to you. I want to leave this in the past and to learn from it in a healthy way but not so that it affects any future relationships in a negative way. I don’t want to hold onto anything that might detriment my relationship with you or my future relationship with my husband Lord, including unforgiveness. Please help me to forgive those who have hurt me and help me to place them in your care Lord. Please forgive me for the times that I have hurt others, even unintentionally. Thank you Lord for the freedom that forgiveness brings. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness in my life Lord. It is amazing how you have forgiven me. Your love shouts of great love that I can share with others through forgiveness. Thank you Lord. Amen