Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mastering the Art of Forgiveness

The average person spends more time in their thoughts than they do in their realities, and for this reason, the enemy is always warring against our minds.  His goal is to get us to self-destruct; wherein, he doesn't have to attack our minds anymore.  Instead, if our thinking is wrong, we'll begin to destroy ourselves from the inside out.

My Testimony

I remember being married the second time and having to deal with the constant attacks against my marriage from my then-husband's sister.  My first marriage had ended because of adultery, and I'd forgiven him and moved on with my life, but I'd done everything in my power to ensure that my second husband didn't wrestle with lust.  I asked many questions, shared my testimony with him, and told him that if he wasn't the type of man who'd be satisfied with one woman, to walk away from our relationship.  After all, he was from Cameroon (Africa), and a lot of people had said to me that African men have trouble committing to one woman.  (This isn't entirely true.  Just like Americans, it depends on the man and what he's taught).  I'd spent so much time focusing on what I didn't want him to be that I overlooked who he really was.  Because of my "then-way-of-thinking", I found myself married for the second time, and even though I didn't have a whole lot of problems with adultery, I did find myself in a situation that felt far worse than adultery.  I found myself married to a man who was not in submission to GOD; he was submitted to his sister, and of course, she wasn't saved.  Instead, she was power-hungry and spent every waking moment either calling him or emailing him.  Needless to say, I spent most of my time in that marriage upset because each and everyday, I stood by and watched my husband be castrated right before my eyes.  Everyday, I felt like I had to try to flush all of the bad advice she'd given my husband out of his head.  And everyday, I found myself growing angrier and angrier with him and her.  Every other day, I would find out about some new secret the two of them shared and tried to hide from me; for example, I found out he had a secret post office box, a secret bank account, and the list goes on and on (ten times around).  Every time I confronted him, he would apologize, and then, tell me that he was only following the advice of his sister.  Slowly, but surely, hatred began to well up in my heart.  I lost respect for the man I'd married, and I began to lose myself in the hatred I was feeling towards his sister.  I was angry because I knew my marriage wouldn't last, and I didn't understand why she wouldn't just back off and be his sister.

As the years passed, GOD continued to deal with my heart, teaching me to forgive the man I was married to day after day.  HE taught me to lay each issue at the altar every night before I turned in, so I wouldn't let the sun set on my wrath.  Everyday, I had to come against how I felt, as opposed to coming against the man, himself.  After all, he was what and who he wanted to be; I either had to get on board or walk away.  I knew that I could not get on board with their arrangement, so eventually, I stopped praying for my marriage, and I started asking GOD to deliver me from that marriage if it was in HIS will to do.  GOD did it.  HE delivered me and taught me a few lessons about forgiveness, but not before taking me through a deliverance that I didn't know I needed.  I didn't know that hatred was hiding in my heart.  After all, I was praying daily, ministering to others, and watching the power of GOD move in my life, so I thought I was living life the right way. 

I was freshly separated from my husband, and we were in the process of initiating the divorce proceedings, when one day, I heard the LORD tell me to shut down my computer and fast for 24 hours.  I didn't know why, but I knew that I needed to spend some time before HIM, so I did.  I cut off my phone, shut down my computer, anointed my head with oil and went into prayer. 

As I spent time before the LORD, I felt a heaviness on my heart that, at first, seemed to get only heavier.  It was pride, and it was coming to the surface.  I laid on my couch, and I stopped trying to keep myself from feeling anything.  Over the years, I'd become really skilled at bottling up my feelings, and even though GOD had delivered me from the pain and unforgiveness associated with my past, I still knew how to bottle up my emotions.... obviously.  But in the presence of the LORD, everything that was in me began to surface.  That's when I heard the LORD ask me to tell HIM how I felt.  I said to HIM what I'd been saying to others: I forgive them.  They only did what they knew how to do.  I love them regardless of what they've done to me.
What was I doing?  I was doing the very same thing many Christians do today.  I was covering up my true feelings with nice little Christian words.  I was thinking that if I repeatedly said that I'd forgiven them that eventually, I'd forgive them for real.  Every time I answered the LORD saying that I'd forgiven them, HE would repeat HIS question to me: How do you feel?  Finally, I couldn't hold it in anymore.  I opened up my mouth and the words that came out shocked me.  Okay!  I hate them and I wish they were dead!
How in this green earth did that happen?  I was surprised; very surprised.  How did hatred get in me, and how long had it been there?  I cried all the more, because I felt like I'd just angered GOD, but HE reassured me that I was now on the path to deliverance.  I'd just confessed my sin, and now, I could be forgiven of it; all I had to do was release that hatred.

I spoke to GOD the same way one speaks with a friend.  I told HIM what happened (as if HE didn't know, but I needed to share it with HIM again), and I repeatedly asked for HIS forgiveness.  I released the hatred by laying it at HIS feet and denouncing it, and in exchange, HE placed forgiveness and peace in my heart for them.  I was still baffled, however.  How did hatred get in my heart, and how did I not know it was there?  Hatred had come into my heart towards the end of that marriage because I'd made the mistake of trying to go over the events of the marriage in my head.  With every major fight we'd had, all I could remember was his sister being in the center of it.  I didn't understand why he would talk with his sister daily, listening to her as she spoke of her hatred for me.  I didn't understand why he didn't see or care that our marriage was falling apart.  So, I made the mistake of trying to understand it all, and in doing so, I revisited each incident (meditation), picking it apart in my head.  I'd forgiven the people of my past.  I'd been molested countless times, had endured a bad marriage beforehand, and I'd learned to forgive them because I didn't spend time thinking about what they'd done, what was said and what should have been said.  I'd let it go and moved on, but with this incident, I'd created my own mental theater, and I was reviewing each memory.  This is error.

In that 24 hour span, I'd acknowledged what was in me, and I'd denounced it; meaning, it was no longer my issue.  I was healed and delivered in that short time span.  It didn't take months or years; it only took me being willing to admit my own fault before I could be set free from it.

The Lesson

As I spent time before the LORD, HE amazed me with a revelation that was new to me.  HE said that everything the enemy had used my ex-husband and his sister to do wasn't to get me to react physically; the enemy was simply trying to get me in unforgiveness.  He knew that by repeatedly exposing me to a bad situation that seemed to only get worse, that it would be hard for me to walk in love.  GOD told me that oftentimes, the enemy attacks us using other people, and we think they're trying to do one thing, so we begin to guard those areas of our lives and hearts, and this distracts us from what the enemy is really trying to do.  The enemy is always trying to get a believer in unforgiveness, and of course, if you marry the wrong man or have someone who isn't saved in your home or in your circle, you are in the same giving the enemy round-the-clock access to your heart.  All the same, if you spend too much time thinking about (meditating on) what someone did to you, you are in the same spending that much time binding your heart and forcing it to revisit the issues of yesterday, when GOD created the heart to move forward.  When you hold your heart back from entering today, you will cause your heart to stiffen, or freeze in the things of yesterday.  Sometimes, you just have to accept that it's okay (and sometimes better) not to know everything or revisit everything that's happened.  Sometimes, it's just better to move forward and never look back.  Ask Lot's wife.

A few years back, I'd spoken with a woman over the phone, and she'd referred to herself as an Apostle.  She was in the process of placing an order with my company for a logo, and somehow, we ended up talking about relationships.  As I listened to her, I could hear unforgiveness in her.  She spoke a lot about her ex-husband, and testified about how he'd left her for another woman.  I've been there before, so I shared my testimony with her, hoping that she would see how blessed I was because I'd chosen to forgive and move on.  I was hoping that she'd hear the steps I took to be free, and take those very-same steps towards her freedom.  As she spoke, she went on and on about the things her ex-husband had taken her through, and she began to say that he was married again, but his marriage wouldn't work because of what he'd done to her.  Of course, she said that GOD had told her that his marriage wouldn't work.  I knew that wasn't GOD speaking to her, so I began to intercede for her ex-husband and his marriage.  After speaking with her a few times, I asked her how long had it been since he'd divorced her, and she said eight years.  Eight years?!  I was surprised.  I honestly thought her wounds were fresh; I thought that he'd left her within the last year.  That's how much hatred I heard in her.  What she said next threw me off even more.  She told me that the woman he was married to was not the same woman who'd contributed to the demise of her relationship.  Instead, he'd met and married his new wife well after they'd divorced.  I was taken-aback.  How could someone be mad at another person eight years later?  Never mind...I don't want to know.  And how could she now be mad at the current wife who hadn't done anything to her, but loved the man she'd once been married to?  Again, I don't want to know.

Know this: You are bound to whomever you have not forgiven until you release them, BUT if they've forgiven you, they aren't bound to you.  In other words, you may very well spend time in a mental prison you've created for yourself, while whomever you're mad at walks about freely and lives life to the fullest.  In other words, unforgiveness doesn't hurt the folks you're mad at; it hurts you.

But here's the thing: Unforgiveness rips the scab off the wounds in your heart time and time again so that you can never heal.  It keeps you bound to a situation and a person by encouraging you to reflect on your past as opposed to moving on.  Here are five things you may not have known about unforgiveness.
  1. GOD told us not to let the sun set on our wrath.  This means that we shouldn't carry an old problem into a new day.  Yesterday's problem should not be with you today, and today's problems should not follow you into tomorrow.  If they do, you will begin to operate in unforgiveness.
  2. Unforgiveness is internal wrath that evokes an eternal punishment.  Hell is the unrestrained wrath of GOD poured out, and if you don't forgive others for their sins and transgressions against you, GOD cannot forgive you for your sin and transgressions against HIM.
  3. We are created in the likeness of GOD; meaning, we are created to think, behave, and speak like HIM.  Since HE is a forgiving GOD, unforgiveness is not one of HIS traits.  When a person does not enter the forgiveness of GOD through CHRIST JESUS, they stand outside of who HE is, and they'll fall into the hell created for Satan and his angels because anything outside of GOD has to be destroyed.  A person who has an unforgiving heart is a person who is found in the likeness of Satan.
  4. We can't forgive others on our own because of our flesh's nature; therefore, we have to get GOD involved in matters of the heart.  Trying to do it yourself will only lead you to confess or acknowledge a forgiveness that you do not yet possess.
  5. Unforgiveness is strife, and it gives place to the devil.  This means that if unforgiveness is in your heart, you have created a home for the devil in your heart.
  6. Unforgiveness is linked to cancer, and many other health problems.
  7. Our lives are like DVD players.  The enemy is always trying to get us to rewind (remember) what we've been through, but GOD is always trying to get us to push play (live each day like yesterday didn't exist).  The enemy is always trying to get us to press fast forward (think ahead and either panic or become anxious), but GOD is always trying to get us to push play (consider the issues of the day and let tomorrow worry about itself).  Unforgiveness is the pause button; whereas, it causes people to get stuck in memories they should have moved forward from a long time ago.
  8. Sometimes, people go out of our lives, not because they wanted to hurt us, but because, GOD rejected them for us.  We spend too much time focusing on who did what to whom and why they did it, that we don't take the time to thank GOD for delivering us time after time.
  9. Unforgiveness is hatred internalized, and the acts of unforgiveness are hatred manifested.
  10. GOD gave us a memory so that we could remember our Egypts and what HE'S brought us through.  HE gave us the ability to remember so that we could testify of HIS goodness.  Nevertheless, the enemy perverted our memories, and used them against us.  He encouraged us to remember the events of yesterdays-passed so that we couldn't operate in our present.  Unforgiveness is when the movie in your mind gets stuck.

The Lies

 Isn't it funny (and sad) how the enemy had once convinced us that by walking in unforgiveness towards others that we were punishing them?  And whenever we saw the people who'd once hurt us, we'd roll our eyes and pout with our lips, hoping that they'd gotten the message.  When we were young, we'd see the people we were mad at move on with their lives, and we'd find ourselves angrier than before.  How could they move on when we're still mad? 

Here are ten lies the enemy likely said to you:
  1. By forgiving people, you're letting them off too easy.  Lie.  By forgiving people, you're letting yourself off pretty easy.
  2. GOD can't repay them the way that you can.  Lie.  GOD doesn't punish us to repay us for our deeds.  When HE punishes someone, the goal is to get them to repent and turn from their evil ways; therefore, HE knows the right time and the right place to deal with them.  You don't.
  3. GOD won't repay them at all.  Lie.  Because the vengeance of GOD sometimes seems to take too long, we often try to deliver vengeance when we want to see it done.  That's because we want vengeance while we're still mad at the folks.  We know that it won't matter once we've forgiven them, so we often refuse to wait for GOD to be GOD, and we try to play GOD instead.  For every action, there is a reaction.  Good actions draw blessings, but evil draws curses and correction.
  4. GOD is too nice.  HE'LL let them off easy, so it's up to you to deliver the kind of punishment they really deserve.  Lie.  Again, the enemy is always trying to get us to play GOD.  GOD is nice because HE is love, but at the same time, HE knows all of HIS children; therefore, HE knows how to chasten you, just like He knows how to chasten them.  What might look like a tap on the hand to you could feel like ongoing torture to someone else.
  5. GOD loves them more than HE loves you.  That's why they are still standing.  Had you done something like that, GOD would have taken you down long ago.  Lie.  The enemy wants you to see GOD in an unjust way, even though the WORD tells us that HE is a just GOD.  GOD is not a respecter of persons, and everyone gets the same treatment with HIM.  If you sin, you're rebuked; if I sin, I'm rebuked.  At the same time, the level of our chastening oftentimes matches the level of our knowledge.  For example, a baby Christian probably wouldn't receive as hard of a correcting as a more seasoned believer.  That's because baby Christians often sin because of lack of knowledge; whereas, seasoned Christians often sin out of rebellion.

No comments:

Post a Comment