There is a common misconception that forgiveness means we do ourselves a favor by letting what happened go. That is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is the pardoning of one’s sin – freeing the offender from the burden of what they’ve done and allowing God to encounter them and forgive them upon repentance, in order that they will not be condemned to hell. The results of sin however, still have consequences. While I forgive those in my life who have brought harm against me, it doesn’t mean I don’t have healing left to do. And while I might struggle with forgiving someone, it doesn’t mean it’s preventing me to heal either. Sin can create wounds, break trust, create insecurity, and can cause a plethora of confusion to work through.
Forgiveness is a part of the healing process, but it’s not always the first step in healing. Righteous anger, making a righteous observation of whether to remove someone from their lives, grieving what’s happened and feeling the loss of what was lost, and coming to a place of acceptance with it are all parts of the process as well. For some, their process might be ever so brief, while for others it can take years.
God is aware of the battle inside each person and the conviction to forgive is a great one – when it’s time. The Word says it is better for a millstone to be put around the neck of a man and thrown into the sea to drown than he who causes one of the least of these to sin. Yes, we are to forgive those who have transgressed against us so we too can be forgiven by our Father in Heaven – but let’s not rush to forgive so quickly that we forget to be honest with God about what we’re struggling with. Wrestle it out with Him rather than pretend not to feel those things.
God sees the heart, the wounds and the ache, and He will gently care for that heart and bring it to a place of healing and forgiveness if we allow ourselves to go through the process of feeling what we’ve experienced. God is near to the brokenhearted and will bring them to that place. Let Him do His thing and please don’t force it – it will only cause one to hesitate in their process, doubt the feelings they have, perhaps even themselves, and thus delay their healing, their growth, and their intimacy with Christ.