On the road to your dreams, you will face betrayals, pain, deceit, gossip and division of friends. Pain inflicted by fellow women is some of the heaviest and hardest. I believe it’s because we were created to band together and have each other’s backs, but the enemy works through us to tear each other down. Even mentors and adults can hurt us when we should be able to trust them.
Since I was a little girl, I absolutely loved dance. I excelled for years in my hometown taking every class and cherishing every minute. It made my heart and soul come alive.
When I was 13, my family moved to a new town and my mother immediately signed my sisters and I up for dance auditions at a studio.
I was confused and crushed when I was placed in a dance group with girls three to four grades younger than me. I was the tallest girl in the class. All my peers were in the dance company above me. I remember feeling so small, inferior and hugely awkward as I got ready for class in the dressing room with the girls. I felt ignored and made fun of.
By nature I’m a fighter, so I endured a few years of this tense and emotionally distressing dynamic before I eventually couldn’t do it anymore.
Have you ever used hurt as fuel to motivate you towards your goals?
On one hand, it’s a good thing to let adversity motivate you. On the other hand, it isn’t healthy or Godly to do it out of spite or to harbor bitterness in our heart.
Forgiveness is so important because it’s an art we must learn how to do many times throughout our life.
Jesus told the parable about an unforgiving man who had been forgiven a great debt by the king.
Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.
“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Matthew 18:31-35 NLT
Maintaining unforgiveness in our hearts is like sentencing ourselves to torture in our own prison.
Forgiveness is powerful. It sets us free to continue to love. We can’t sparkle if we are holding on to grudges.
You are made for more. You are made to be so secure in who you are that you can fully forgive.
Here are four points that make forgiveness a little easier:
1. Spiritual Warfare:
It’s important to understand you have an enemy that works many angles to distract and disrupt you from the abundant life Jesus died for you to have. Holding people responsible for the offenses they commit against you is an open door for him to wreak havoc.
The Bible tells us that our struggle is not between flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12.)
Once, some close friends accused me of something that attacked my character. I was distraught and couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning, I processed it with God and He reminded me who the real battle was against. He showed me the enemy was using them as puppets to hurt and distract me. This made it easy to forgive them, and rebuke the enemy instead.
Even Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24 NIV.
When someone offends me, I sometimes catch myself in a thoughts like these:
“I am shocked such a close friend would instigate discord behind my back.”
“I can’t believe she would talk to me like that. I would never treat someone that way.”
“Did he seriously just un-invite us to that event? Who does that?”
When we are wronged by someone else, we act like we would never do such a terrible thing. But we have. We just forget because it’s much easier to be the victim than to be responsible.
Next time you are offended, remember at least the last five things for which God has forgiven you.
When I do this, I am quickly humbled to see that the sins of my inner person far outweigh the offense I am upset about.
When I remember how much God covers my wrongs, it immediately becomes an honor and joy to forgive my offender.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 NIV
3. Do right in God’s sight:
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation, which can be very hurtful and sad. Our primary reason for forgiveness can’t be reconciliation. It has to be just because God said so. Re-uniting is wonderful and can definitely happen, but what matters most is that you are in good standing with God.
Whether or not someone repents and receives your forgiveness is not your problem, it’s God’s problem. We just need to emulate Christ in forgiving someone for allowing the enemy to work through them unknowingly and surrender the results to God.
4. Pray and Bless:
God has a higher justice system than ours. How can we conquer evil with evil? We can only really conquer evil with good, which is why God calls us to deal with our offenders in a way that feels like it’s wrenching our guts out just thinking of it.
Not only does He want us to forgive our enemies, he wants to pray for them and bless them. I don’t know about you, but my flesh screams, Ahhhh! Noooo. Whyyyy?
I used to struggle with this a lot. The last thing I wanted to do is pray for someone who offended me. But one day as I was reading the Bible, I had a breakthrough.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Mark 5:43.
Then he proceeds to say, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mark 5:48 NIV
He calls us to love and pray for our enemies so that we may be His children… so that we may be perfect like our Father.
That is all I needed to know. All I care about is being like Christ. That might sound fanatic and overly spiritual, but I feel that way because I have experienced the more Christlike decisions I make, the more fulfilling, meaningful and beautiful my life becomes.
It’s an adventure. I think of it as a video game. The more we choose to act like Christ, the more our natural tendencies die a little, and the more we transform into the image of God. Thus, the more advanced levels we get to.
Who wouldn’t want to be a representation of peace, love, joy and freedom?
The more advanced we become, the more quickly we recognize the devil’s schemes and choose the Godly defense weapons to squelch him.
Love conquers all. Love is our greatest weapon, so don’t let unforgiveness steal our most powerful tool.
Forgiveness = The Sparkle Effect