What exactly is forgiveness?
How do you know when you’ve forgiven someone fully?
These questions have been asked to pastors around the world for years and years. I of course cannot answer for them, but I can answer what the Bible has to say about it and my own personal experience. Many of you know I grew up in an extremely abusive environment. There was pretty much every kind of abuse you can think of. The one I struggled with the most was sexual abuse and emotional abuse and neglect.
My step-dad sexually abused me for many years. It was just a part of life. I thought it was normal. I thought all people went through it. This of course has stirred in me lately because of the #metoo movement. All of these people getting their day to confront their abuser in court. They are allowed to tell him how it affected their life even into adulthood. And believe me it does. It’s great for them but what about the millions of people like myself never getting to look at the abuser across a courtroom and know that this person who changed your life forever - will never pay? My life went on as normal. There were no police, no charges filed- nothing. I had to as many do, pick up the pieces of my young life and try to put them back together. In my case my step-dad passed away about 5 years ago. There will never be an opportunity for me to confront him. But, he is in the arms of Jesus now. He walks in complete forgiveness.
So back to the question, what is forgiveness? I searched for years for an answer to this question. In my case with this event, forgiveness was hard. Because of this person I have flashbacks, a very poor self-image I fight against constantly and many other issues in my adult life. But, the day I knew I had forgiven I was set free from blaming him for my life. I could picture his face and know that if I saw him on the side of the road in need of help, I would stop. I would help him. How could I ever get to this point? The revelation that Jesus already paid for what my step-dad did. People cannot pay you back after hurting you because Jesus already did it. He sacrificed his own life for what my step- dad did, for what I’ve done in my life too.
How do you know when you’ve truly forgiven someone? When it’s not a part of your daily life and thinking. If you’re still thinking about it in whatever capacity- you haven’t fully forgiven. Of course, it will never go away but when you find yourself hardly thinking of it and focusing on other things. Then you know forgiveness has set in. Like I’ve said before “who are they to me?”. The people in your life that have hurt you are going to be wherever you put them in your mind. If you want that hurt front and center than they’ll be there. If you’re truly ready to move on, then do so.
Take a look inside your heart. Is it time to fully forgive?