Updated: Oct 4, 2019
I have found that it is easy to forgive when you are hurt by people you don't know. It is harder if the people who hurt you are family or individuals that you highly esteem. Whoever or whatever the source of pain, it hurts, and you can find yourself stuck in the place of your hurt years after the event has occurred. Many of us park and even erect monuments at our points of pain.
Many of us park and even erect monuments at our points of pain.
For this article I want to concentrate on church hurts. Many of us have experienced some level of pain inflicted by church people, because we expect them to be loving, we are not so guarded around them, which makes forgiving them and letting go so difficult after they have hurt us.
Years ago we were members of a local church where the pastor felt that I was a bit of an obstacle. He had personal financial needs that he felt that my husband was capable of financing. I learned that my husband had indeed been taking care of them, but he got to a point where he couldn't do it anymore, that's how I found out about this. So we decided to go and have a heart-to-heart moment with the pastor and his wife about this issue so they can realize what a heavy burden this was on my husband and the negative effects of it on our family.
Things turned quickly against me, although I didn't say much at this meeting. I took the blame for my husband’s change of heart, so the pastor decided he was not going to take this lying down. He was armed and dangerous, guns blazing and spitting fire. He told my husband how dangerous I was and that if he valued his life, he had to act fast and divorce me as I was "possessed" by a "spirit" that will kill him. Boom! Boom! He fired! He fired so quickly and before I could blink, he had holstered his gun, back in the sling!!!
I was bleeding profusely! I felt abandoned and alone, my trusted companion was not able to defend me. I felt like I had been brought to be slaughtered like a sheep. I watched helplessly as my family unit crumbled, I desperately fought to keep my husband but he had checked out, he was too petrified, I guess. He reminded me of the pastor's warning over and over; eventually, I lost the fight.
And I was stuck!! Stuck in anger, bitterness and hatred.
One day I was at a different church and as I got up to leave at the end of the service, I turned around and there he was, the same pastor sitting behind me, staring at me, looking very sick and weak. My knees couldn't hold my weight at that point and gave in; as I went down, he picked me up, and helped me up. Trembling, fighting the urge to take matters into my hands, I mumbled "I forgive you". I made a choice in an instant to forgive this man whose actions had deprived my children of their normal family unit as they had known it. From having a home, food, clothes, security, they faced insufficiency, humiliation, suffering, no food, no clothes and were homeless.
I learnt later that the pastor died a few months after our encounter.
I realized later that while I was hurting, I was hurting other people in church also. You see while I trying to mend my crumbling life, wondering how I was going to provide for my kids, and where our next meal was going to come from; looking constantly over my shoulder because the bank was on the process of repossessing my car, the same car that seldom had enough petrol to take me to work and church, I was stuck many times and I had no one to call for help. Around this time, some innocent people got to experience me as a mean and cruel person as I was not able to help them; I couldn't be of any help. I had no capacity to help them at all, so they were stuck, in anger and frustration. I didn't realize how my actions impacted their lives. Years later I had an opportunity to realize my mistakes and to sincerely apologize.
Here is how to forgive and let go after you've been hurt:
Understand that we are all human, we are not perfect. Lower your expectations of people. When you look at people as people, you eliminate the unreasonable expectations that we usually have of people. When they do make mistakes, you will understand their imperfection. This pastor was just a human being with faults too.
Decide to forgive. This is easier said than done, it is hard, but decide to do it. You will still hurt a lot even after you forgave, because forgiveness doesn’t mean you will forget, but eventually it will be a distant memory.
Don’t wait for people to acknowledge their mistake before you choose to forgive them, sometimes they are not aware of it, or may not want to apologize, forgive them regardless, and let go of the heavy weight and move on with your life.
Refuse to hold a grudge. It is a heavy load to be thinking about your situation and then thinking about the person who caused it, while they live their lives and are not aware that you are having heart palpitations and sleepless nights. Fight for your life, fight to free yourself from the chains of bitterness.
Letting go of anger and bitterness is your choice, holding on to it is also your choice. When you don’t let go, you allow someone to occupy space in your heart, rent-free; you think about them regularly, and it weighs heavily on you. You have to decide to give them immediate notice to vacate your mind, and your heart. You are responsible for your own shoulders, for the weight you place on your shoulders. Don’t bend over, and be stuck as a result of continuing to carry heavy loads of unforgiveness, bitterness and anger. Shake them off of you. Your health will thank you!
Letting go of anger and bitterness is your choice, holding on to it is also your choice.
You have a life to live. Live it on your own terms. Aiming for freedom should be one of those terms!
Fight for your life, fight to free yourself from the chains of bitterness.
Your experience might be different than mine, but I know it is very painful. If you have a situation that is holding you back from enjoying your life now as well as your future, my job is to help you overcome such obstacles. Let's talk!
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