I awoke in the middle of the night with a starkly realistic dream about someone from many years ago in my life. My nerves were knotted up in anger, and I realized this was someone I haven't yet forgiven for real or perceived offenses. It's time for me to go
through the process, which I know will give me freedom, but will not be easy. How can we get free of our old wounds? Here's what I've learned over the years, in a nutshell, and I hope it will help you.
Command: First of all, we are told in God's word that we must forgive others. Jesus gave a pretty strong warning on this in Matt. 6:14-15: "If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins." But further, Paul writes in Colossians 3:13, "Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others." How many awful sins has God forgiven in me? Compared to that list, another's sins against me are pretty tame.
Choice: Second, we still must choose to follow Jesus' and Paul's commands. It's not automatic. Doing so means I must decide to look at those hurts and consciously let go of my feelings, turning them over to the one true Healer of all hearts. Doing so recognizes that he is in charge of the other person's life, not me. The other may already have repented and changed many years ago, and Jesus has already forgiven him or her through his blood on the cross. Hanging on to my resentment doesn't obligate or limit God. It just messes up my life.
Process: Since I'm human, this will involve a process of finding one problem at a time and turning each one of those over to the Lord for his healing. Some of these I may not remember or recognize right now and it may not be the Lord's time to awaken my memory or my awareness. But when he does, he expects me to act.
There are many more ways to describe forgiveness, but from what I've learned, those are the basics. Do you need to forgive someone in your life? It's not an option, it's a command. But more, it's also one of the most freeing and health-giving things we can do. How about starting right now?