As thoughts have come and gone throughout the days, I have often been carried back to a time in my life when a close friend, whom I greatly admired, had so disappointed and confused me that I became disillusioned with friendship and established norms.  It even shook my confidence as a mother and a wife.  And during that time, many years ago, as my mind tried to cope with the pain of cruel words that stung my heart, my self-esteem was damaged.  This is a burden that I carried with me for many years, constantly reliving the experience.  I would go over and over that time, replaying each conversation and every barbed word that was colored with manipulation, and wonder if the person really knew what they did to me or if they were sorry at all.  In Brandon Heath’s song, I’m Not Who I Was”, he sings of a past relationship colored with pain, and the heart changes that come through forgiveness.  When I first heard this song I searched my heart and quickly saw that I was holding onto a pain that I needed to let go and leave at the feet of Jesus.  I understood that by constantly reliving those memories and allowing the bitter root of an unforgiving heart to grab hold of me, I was only hurting myself more.  I was enabling myself to be kept under the stronghold of the person whose actions had hurt me years ago.

When people have wronged us, the damage can be great.  Pain and anger from situations long past can still color how we experience life today.  But God has the answer to our grief.  He has given us instructions how to let go of the pain through His own example.  We are to forgive.  “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).  As you read this, you may be thinking, just as I was, that the person who caused such pain doesn’t deserve forgiveness…and you are right. No one does. But that’s where mercy comes in.  God gave us the ultimate example through His forgiveness of our sins, both past, present and future.  We didn’t deserve His forgiveness.  We didn’t earn it, for we couldn’t.   Instead, God forgave us out of love. 

In His great wisdom God tells us that by forgiving others it releases us from the chains that keep us imprisoned in our agony.  It allows us to release our anger and receive the healing we so desperately need. Forgiving others spares us from the consequences of living out of an unforgiving heart.  It doesn’t mean that we need to put ourselves back into a situation that is dangerous or would cause further harm.  Forgiveness is not saying what someone did to us was right or just.  It is submitting it to God, knowing that He will take care of it.  Forgiveness is a matter of the heart and the decision we make to release our pain to Jesus. It is a conscious choice. God’s word says to “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken” (Psalm 55:22).  Our God is more than strong enough to handle everything that imprisons us.  He holds the key that will set us free.

Are there people in your past, maybe some who have already left this earth, who have hurt you?  Do they have control of your heart even now? Then, come to Jesus.  Let go of the pain and leave it at His feet.  He will release you from the chains that hold you to a life of bitterness and sorrow.  And as you pray for the strength to let go of the ache you feel, God will come and cover you with His healing love.  He will comfort you and lead you into a life where you are free to experience His joy and peace.  And that, dear friends, is the miracle of amazing grace.

Living for Him,



  1. Hi Joan:

    Another inspiring post.

    Forgiveness isn't easy (if left to our own human flesh), but as you say, if we turn to Christ, He will give us the strength to forgive. I didn't deserve forgiveness from Him, but He so freely gave.


  2. You shared much wisdom in this post. I've had to forgive a person who hurt me even when they were not sorry. But it released me from constantly reliving the pain. I've given them over to the Lord and now I'm free.

    Blessings and love,

  3. Wise words Joan,
    It is a most valuable thing to learn (and to teach)to not let people's words to have power over us. To only allow God's word to bear on our lives.

    Since He has set me free in the past from needing to be validated by people, I am able to process words through the filter of God's Word (love).

    And it is a process. Not easy, but so freeing!

  4. Joan, this was really great. I liked especially this that you said,
    "Forgiving others spares us from the consequences of living out of an unforgiving heart." Perhaps that is yet another way that God protects our hearts - He knows the power of forgiveness to break the chains of anger and bitterness. He knows that when we forgive, we take away a lot of the devil's power against us.

    Yes, I have someone in my life who has hurt me, and continues to do so. But, I am asking for the patience to be with this person (it's necessary - a close family member), and also for the gracious spirit to forgive. It's the least I can do to acknowledge what God did for me.


  5. There have been some bitter roots in my heart in this season; I mostly notice them as they arrive when my mind dwells on the offense (most of which occurred over a year ago). If I'm not quick to surrender those thoughts to Jesus, I can be in a lather rather quickly. When I think about all that's been given to me through the cross, I'm better able to arrive at peace rather than bitterness. I suppose this will be a life-long work in me... this learning how to forgive, but forgive I must.

    It's the best I can do.


  6. Such a beautiful post! It's so hard for me to remember that I have been forgiven for so much MORE than anyone's ever done to ME. I've been reminded several times over the last several weeks that my life exists to be a picture of Christ, a conduit of His characteristics ~ His love, His mercy, His grace ~ and that I need to surrender the hurt feelings, the pride, the envy, the bitterness, my "rights".... and anything else that's clouding His image in me.

    Thank you for being another reminder!

  7. This remind me of: "...forgiving one another, so as God also in Christ has forgiven you", Ephesians 4 verse 32. As we enjoy being forgiven we will be helped to forgive.

  8. This really spoke to me. I was on the other end of this experience. I hurt someone. I was becoming emotionally unstable, and even now I can't believe what I did. One night I cried out in so much pain, that I was sure I was crying tears of blood. Suddenly God showed up. He said "I'm not holding you responsible. You are sick."

    Truly! I'm not making that up. I even wrote a devotional about it. God instantly forgave me, and He didn't want me carrying it anymore. Of course I asked for forgiveness and instantly received it from my friend, but it hurt me much worse than it did her.

    Maybe that's the case with your offender? I would like to encourage you to look for the good in the one who wounded you. Jesus did.


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