“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”Colossians 3:12-13
“Foregiveness”, it’s easily received and rarely given. Have you forgiven someone if you never tell them? Is your heart full of forgiveness if you hold onto resentment and anger toward another? How can we be clothed in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” and not forgive?
I have personally dealt with unforgiveness for a long time. Those that know me well know that I have had a failed marriage and two sons who live with their mother. Anger and hatred filled my heart for several years. Partially, because my children were withheld from me, but mostly the anger was directed at myself for allowing it to happen. For about 2 years I was falling deeper and deeper into a pit of depression, unchecked rage, and alcohol. I ran away from what I saw as the cause of these feelings only to find them come back again. It wasn’t until I realized that there was nothing I could do to change the external influences on my mind and soul until I changed the internal influences. I had to find freedom from myself.
I found this freedom through forgiveness. First, I forgave myself for making mistakes and bad choices. I made a promise to my family to move forward, get better, and be the best person that God wanted me to be. Second, I forgave those who wronged me. It wasn’t important if they accepted it, I wasn’t looking for an apology or even to restore a relationship. I simply wanted them to know that there was no ill will from me. Lastly, I made a promise to myself and to God that I would do my best to keep those feelings of wrath and contempt away from my heart for the rest of my life.
It hasn’t been easy. There have been many moments when I wanted to hang on to a “justified anger”. But then I remember, with a bit of urging from the Holy Spirit, that if Jesus could forgive the entire human race then I should be able to forgive a few people. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…keep these in your heart and forgiveness must live there too.