I Believed, in order to receive healing from past hurts, those who have wronged me had to first ask for forgiveness. How could I move on when these things happened to me (sexual assault, emotional abuse, and neglect)? I thought it wasn't fair. I wanted an apology. I needed closure.
One day as I was driving, God told me, "Where there is a need for closure, there is a lack of forgiveness."
After He said this, I pondered. Moments later, God showed me I hadn't fully forgiven. I still had unforgiveness in my heart toward my parents. I shared this with a church member at the time. The individual told me to forgive when "I'm" ready. I didn't agree with this statement because I knew God. I knew that if He would've dangled His forgiveness of my wrongdoings toward Him over my head--like a puppeteer holds a puppet by its strings, I would never be able to reach or achieve it. I also knew I wanted to forgive, but didn't know exactly how. I prayed to God concerning this burden that was on my heart.
I found the answer in His Word:
" Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him [drop the issue, let it go], so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions and wrongs doings [against Him and others]. ["But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your transgressions."] -Mark 11:25-26 AMP
In just a short period of time, I received Temporary Duty orders (TDY) to attend Postal School--which was at Fort Jackson, SC. I met a friend there who invited me to Bible study. After a few weeks of attending service, I knew it was purposed for me to be there. I just didn't know what the purpose was right away. One Wednesday night after the Bible study lesson, the bishop opened the floor for any questions or comments. One particular lady raised her hand and shared a burden she carried in her heart for years. As she begin to weep, I knew that I too had to share my burden. After 18 years of holding on to the secret pain of sexual assault, I brought my wounds to light. That night the bishop told me it was very courageous to share my story with people I didn't know. He told me the next thing I had to do was forgive. I called my mom immediately after leaving church, and admitted I had unforgiveness in my heart toward her. I told her I wanted to forgive her for everything that happened in the past. Not only was I relieved after all these years, I believed she was too after hearing her tears over the phone. That night I knew forgiveness was not only for the person who was offended, but also for the offender.
I called my dad a few days later. After the conversation, he asked if I could forgive him for not being in my life in the past. I did exactly that. I released my grasp and forgave.
The last weekend of postal school was absolutely beautiful. The sound of the wind told the story of freedom--and even I was liberated. I decided to surprise my dad.I hadn't seen him in 5 years at the time. He lived in Charlotte, which was only an hour away from the base (it's amazing how God sets things up). Now for those of you who know me, know I'm good at planning surprises.
My sister was throwing a birthday party for my nephew, so this was a perfect time to see him for the first time as well. When I arrived, I walked to the backyard and saw my dad talking to family. My dad stood speechless when he saw me standing with my sisters. Words could not express the relief I had as we embraced each other. That day was full of hugs, laughter, and peace.
I was at peace with God. Knowing He forgave me for my sins (and they were many) is what inspires me to forgive others. Accepting Jesus' words, "It is finished," allowed me to realize He is all the closure I ever needed. My healing didn't come through an apology. It came through forgiveness. Jesus forgave me, and now, I choose to forgive others.
Are you in need of Closure?
You may be seeking healing through apologies. In your heart you may have planned not to forgive those who have wronged you--until they first ask for forgiveness. I want to encourage you. Don't put your hope and dependency on an apology you may never receive. Receiving an apology can't ultimately heal you. Your healing is found only in Christ Jesus.
It may take time to heal, but forgiveness must take place immediately. God will give you the power to forgive. His strength is made perfect in weakness (Romans 12:9). And again He says, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit" (Zechariah 4:6).
I've found, having the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit gives me supernatural strength to accomplish what I can't do in my own. It is important for every believer to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). The Holy Spirit is a gift given to every believer who asks God for it. The Holy Spirit will help you. He will instruct, comfort, guide, and intercede for you. I have received many good gifts in my life, but I'd have to say, no gift can ever surpass salvation, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
*I will discuss more about the Holy Spirit in another post, so be on the lookout ;-).
"But God, will you repay them for what they've done?"
When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him? Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me. -John 21:21-22
Some of you continuously remind God about the wrongdoings others have committed toward you.
God doesn't want you to worry about them. While you're pointing your finger at the person who wronged you, remember God can do the same to you. The great thing about Christ is that He doesn't. He chose to forgive us. He gives us grace instead.
Once you're at peace with God, you will no longer be concerned about what happened in the past. Instead, you will seek to gain understanding of God's will for your life, and the purpose of why He allowed you to survive the thing the enemy set out to destroy you.
God wants to use you, but He can't do it if you are still locked up behind the bars of unforgiveness. He wants you to follow Him. Accept the fact that you may never receive the apology that you wanted, and be perfectly content with that. Know this: Having a relationship and being at peace with God is the only closure you need.
THE GREAT EXAMPLE
After Jesus was brutally beaten, mocked, ridiculed, betrayed by His disciples, and crucified--with nails in His hands and feet, and in deep agony, He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." -Luke 23:33
He could've asked the Father to punish them--and had every right to, but He didn't. He decided to die for them. He decided to die for us.
After Jesus was raised from the dead, He first appeared to Mary (a follower of Jesus), then to His disciples. He greeted His disciples by saying "Peace be with you."
Jesus could've brought up the fact that His disciples had left and betrayed Him. He could've held a grudge. But what did He do? He blessed them. He took away their guilt. He forgave them, and breathed on them, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (the gift He had promised to give them).
He said to them, "If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Forgiveness is a choice. Let's choose to follow after Jesus' example.
****I know I had A LOT of forgiving I had to do. My next post will be touching up on forgiving yourself and healing from past failed relationships. I'm excited! Be on the look out for a part 2!****
If you are not saved, and do not know the truth about God's love and forgiveness, God wants you to give your life to Him. He wants you to grow in knowledge of the truth, by getting to know Him for yourself. Repent and let God take away your guilt. Turn away from sin, and pursue the lover of your soul.
"But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the f act that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8 AMP
"For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him." -John 3:16-17 AMP
If this portion of my testimony has encouraged you, please share it, in hope that others too will also be encouraged.