Awhile ago I remember reading the following quote
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
– Lewis B. Smedes
I was struck by its truthfulness, and soon learned that he was right in more ways then I first realized.
After becoming a Christian, God led me out of my prison cell by teaching me the whys and how’s of forgiveness.
Looking back I see how closed off I was, how many days I spent obsessing over the wrongs that were done to me throughout my lifetime.
The process of learning to forgive quickly took me to some dark places, before I was free.
Yet, I soon realized that living a life of forgiveness is just a better way to live.
Then it happened.
An unknown intruder crept into my home through a window thought locked, crept past my sleeping sons camped out in the living room and went to the kitchen to grabbed a (unrecovered) knife before going into the bedroom my beautiful sleeping nineteen year old daughter.
My daughter woke to the sound of a hissing cat and the loud banging of a metal door as it smashed shut.
She then woke me, she was holding her neck…long story short, before the day would be done she would have 37 stitches in her neck. I ache as I write this and think about the events of that day.
The worst of it was pretty bad (a mother is never supposed to see her child’s neckbone), but the best of it was God. God is good. God is with us always.
God let me know the importance of making the decision right there, in the hospital room, in the midst of all the chaos and madness, to make the decision to forgive.
I remember standing by the emergency room bed and talking with her about forgiveness.
I remember saying that not only does God ask us to forgive others but we need to forgive so that her attacker cannot do any more damage than he has already done. I knew that ever second hating him was a second stolen, she did not deserve that.
She agreed and prayed with me, right there in the middle of the emergency room, as they were stitching her up. , who by God’s grace chose to forgive in that moment.
I believe that her choosing to forgive not only freed her from a life of pain and misery, it opened the door to a brighter future. She is now thriving and I could not be more pleased to call her my daughter.
One of the things to keep in mind about holding forgiveness towards someone is we are the ones who are affected. That even though we may spend hours and hours talking and thinking about how a person mistreated us, our doing so does not affect the person we are upset with….they are living their life in freedom while we are in a jail of our own making.
So while it was not fair that we were mistreated, it is even more unfair that we continue to mistreat ourselves.
When we let go and allow God to bring healing beautiful things happen.
One of the things that happened as a result of this situation is that as a direct result of my daughters attack someone who had been living in a place of hopelessness, homelessness, and despair, gave her life to God and in the years since has a wonderful home and church family and a restored relationship with her real family.
This was not an easy post to write, sometimes you have to choose to forgive on a daily or hourly basis. When I thought of the attacker as I wrote this I had to remember to forgive (she is my baby girl no matter how is she is). My instinct is to want to do serious harm to anyone who harms my child, I knew that path would lead to no good thing so I said allow “I forgive him.”
So why write it? Because I believe that God directed me to because someone who reads this needs to learn forgive.
Maybe there is one person that you need to forgive, or maybe there is a dozen, but hear this clearly, by holding unforgiveness you, in essence, are giving them more of your life to damage.
Also remember Satan is real and when we have unforgiveness towards someone he knows that all he has to do is to put a thought in our mind about that person and he will ruin or moment, day, or year.
Trust God enough to give to him everything that you feel about they way that you were mistreated, trust God by asking him to help you to want to forgive, to learn to forgive. He will help you do so as you call out to him.
Remember He is an expert at forgiveness!
He forgave you and I.
That day as my daughter lay on that emergency room table we made our choice. But my husband did not. He said “You can forgive, that is fine but I will NEVER forgive that person who did this to her.”
If you are ever temped to think that unforgiveness is no big deal make sure to read part two of this post , because the lengths that God went to get my husband to change his mind will astound you.
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