It's a really dangerous (and arrogant) place to be in when you feel like you should be forgiven for the sins you've committed/offenses you've caused/hurt and harm you've done but the people who have done that to you are not...*by you*. Scripture tells us so:
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."---Matthew 6:14-15(NKJV)
IF YOU *DO NOT* FORGIVE MEN, GOD *WILL NOT* FORGIVE YOU.
That's...loaded. And the reason why I'm sharing this post is because I have spoken to quite a few people this week where it is pretty evident that they have not forgiven someone (or several someones) in their life and the reality is that there is no way to know how to love and be loved, fully, until that transpires.
So in the effort to get some people closer to real and lasting love and further away from unforgivingness, first here's an excerpt from an article entitled "Have You Truly Forgiven? 4 Ways to Know":
Do the Lord's prayer test. Say the Lord's prayer. When you get to the part that says that the Lord should forgive you as you forgive others, mention specifically the name of a person who has hurt you in the past. So let's say John hurt you in the past, you should say "And forgive me my trespasses as I forgive John". If you can mention that person's name without any hurtful feelings, you have truly let go. If the mention of that person's name evokes emotions of hurt and bitterness, it is very likely you have not completely forgiven the person and you need to deal with it immediately.
You never have anything good to say about the person who hurt you. You may have genuine complaints about the person. However when your first instinct is to "bad-mouth" or the slander the person to every single person you meet, you may insist that you have let go and but it is very likely that you haven't. Slandering an ex to everyone you meet is not you "letting out some steam". It is you holding on to a grudge which could destroy your perception of the opposite sex if not dealt with. Unfortunately, I regularly see this on social media as people slander the father of their children for being so-called "dead-beats". He may be a dead-beat indeed but don't forget : that dead-beat's DNA is in your child !
You do not wish the person who hurt you well. In fact, if you are truthful with yourself, you will realize you even wish nothing ever works out for this person. When I was in high school, there was a girl who really made me feel less of a person than I was. She made me feel like rubbish each time I spoke to her. I even went to a counselor one day and cried as I told her of the torment this girl was putting me through. I found myself wishing that nothing would work for her and that something really bad would happen to her. Well something really bad happened. Her father, who had been sick for a while, died in our last year of high school just as we were about to finish. Did this make me feel any better ? Of course not ! I realized the foolishness of holding on to such trivialities when there were more serious things in life. All your wishing that something bad happens to the person who hurt you and whose offense you are holding on to WILL NOT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER. Take it from me.
You have vowed never to speak to the person again. I once heard someone say " I will forgive them but I will never ever speak to them again !" Umm, deciding not to speak to someone is one of the hardest and most uncomfortable things to do especially if you live in the same house, go to the same school or work at the same job. It's never a freeing experience.You will constantly run into the person and then what ? Romans 12:18 : If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. "As much as depends on you" means you have to make every possible effort to forgive and reconcile with the person. You may even take someone who is mature in the faith with on your journey of reconciliation as Jesus commands us to do in the gospels. "As much as depends on you" : if you do your part and the other party refuses to accept your offer of peace, you know you've done your part and all you owe that person now is unconditional love whether they choose to ever speak to you again or not.
And then I also appreciated the pearls of wisdom found in "5 Ways to Tell If You've Forgiven Someone":
When the first thought you have about them is not the injury they caused in your life. You should be able to have normal thoughts about the person occasionally. Remember, you are dropping the right to get even; the grudge you held against them.
Ask yourself: Would you help them if you knew they were in trouble and you had the ability? Most likely this is someone you once cared about…perhaps even loved. You would have assisted them if they needed help. While I’m not suggesting you would subject yourself to abuse or further harm, that you are obligated to help them, or even that you should, but would you in your heart want to see them prosper or see them come to harm?
Can you think positive thoughts about this person? Again, you’ve likely been on positive terms with this person or in a close enough relationship for them to injure you to this extreme. Is there anything good you can come up with about them? If not, have your really forgiven them?
Do you still think of getting even with the person? There may be consequences that need to come for this person and you may have to see them through to protect others, but does your heart want to hurt them? If so, would you call this forgiveness?
When you have stopped looking for them to fail. If you have truly forgiven someone, then just like you would for anyone else, you would want them to succeed or at least do better in life. Forgiveness means you’ve stopped keeping a record of the person’s wrongs.
And finally a piece that's pretty short and sweet: "10 Benefits of Forgiveness":
Is there a psychological, even a physical benefit to forgiveness? Studies show that there are. Forgiveness has been associated with all of the following:
1. Lower heart rate and blood pressure
2. Greater relief from stress
3. Decrease in medication use
4. Improved sleep quality and decrease in fatigue
5. Decreased physical complaints such as aches and pains
6. Reduction in depressive symptoms
7. Strengthened spirituality
8. Better conflict management
9. Improved relationships (not just with the offending party but in other relationships as well)
10. Increase in purposeful, altruistic behaviors
So, are you holding on to anger? Is there someone that you are “punishing” by choosing not to forgive? Why not let go of the bitterness and start enjoying all of the above. It takes practice and effort to forgive, but it is well worth it in the long run (spiritually, physically, and psychologically.)
Why lose sleep, spirituality and relationships because you can't fully forgive?
Definitely a lot to think about.
Forgiveness is a choice. Choose wisely.