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Life is never exactly fair. Somewhere along the way, we all get hurt. Someone betrays us. Someone does us wrong. We become the innocent victims of unspeakable abuse. The aftermath is devastating and difficult. And no one expects wounds to heal overnight. No one expects abuse to be brushed under the rug. Forgive and forget? It’s much more complicated than that.
I picked up Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss just days ago. Last year, I reviewed her book Choosing Gratitude. It solidified and encouraged my heart that gratitude will change your life if you let it. It did mine. I expected no less encouragement in Choosing Forgiveness. I was not disappointed.
But Choosing Forgiveness is intense.
The ugly truth is that fragments of bitterness can sweep into corners of the heart and resurface when you think that you’ve seen the last of them. I’ve tried to forgive. I’ve faced some ugly monsters of unforgiveness in my heart and chosen to realize that in and of myself I’m powerless to do anything about it. I’ve chosen many times to let God give my heart the ability to forgive those who have hurt me.
But do I sometimes justify hanging on to a little bit of bitterness towards some of the people who have wounded me so deeply that I live daily with the scars to remind me? Or, perhaps sometimes do I think it’s okay not to forgive myself for past choices I’ve made that affect me now?
Nancy brings validation to the fact that those of us who have been wronged (that’s all of us, really) have pain that is very real. It’s not just your imagination. It’s not just me making a big deal out of nothing. It’s real, raw, and it hurts.
She doesn’t excuse the people who hurt us. They did wrong. But she doesn’t excuse away our need to deal with the bitterness either. Instead, she points the way to true freedom — through forgiveness. We can’t undo the hurt that’s been caused us. We can’t undo the wrongs that we’ve endured. But through God’s grace, we can forgive even our greatest offenders. Our wounds don’t have to define us.
“Do these wounds — past or present — have to define who you are, where you are headed, and how you get there?”
Truth: They don’t have to.
The pain we’ve had in our lives doesn’t have to define how we live the rest of our lives. We aren’t destined to a life spent wallowing, struggling with bitter thoughts. We have a choice. Thank God for this.
Instead of letting our hurt eat away at us, and taint every part of our lives — even the good parts — we can choose to let our brokenness be redeemed by choosing to forgive. To not let bitterness be the winner again by destroying the rest of our life. Because when it comes to refusing to forgive, we are the ones that lose the most.
But here’s the hard part. There is no three-step process to forgiveness. It’s not “do X, Y & Z and now you are free”. Forgiveness, much like love, is something we live, not a method we follow.
In Choosing Forgiveness, Nancy gently, but bravely takes us in deep to carefully look at our wounds and potential roots of bitterness hiding out in the corners. Each chapter ends with questions to help us take this message personally. There’s even a small group discussion guide at the back if you want to work through the book in a group setting.
And chapter by chapter, it takes you on a journey. First to recognize where you have not forgiven. And then how to come to the place of forgiveness and freedom in Jesus. Forgiveness: it is a choice. We make it, God enables it. For the big things, like betrayal and abuse. And for the little things, like when a friend hurts our feelings.
This book may be painful, but it is beautifully powerful. No matter what kind of pain we have in the past, God knows. He hasn’t left us alone. And He has more than enough strength on reserve for us to face and forgive — both others and ourselves.
Kindred Grace is giving away a copy of Nancy’s book, Choosing Forgiveness. Enter below for a chance to win a copy!
I have been convicted on this point alot recently, and have found lots of unforgiveness hiding out in my heart.
I have learned that the hardest kind of forgiveness is forgiveness of self. It’s easy to get bogged down with guilt and fail to allow God to cleanse and quiet. He has forgiven, therefore, I should forgive.
I wish it would be easier to forgive. It releases the victim from the pain and its so beautiful when freely given. When I read stories of how people have forgiven atrocious crimes from the heart it deeply moves me. It seems to me that it would be healing for both parties. What about trust? If someone is forgiven does that mean we can automatically trust them especially if they are a repeat offender? I believe we can be cautious and still love the person.
I have learned that forgiveness means freedom for the victim,but does not absolve the abuser of his guilt or need for legal consequences.
I would love to read this book! I have learned that forgiveness is needed even if the person who offended doesn’t ask for it.
I am fairly new to Kindred Grace, but I must say that I have really enjoyed reading the posts and have received a lot of encouragement through them! I would certainly like to read this book because true forgiveness is something I have struggled with and I’m not sure I really understand it…
The quote from above stood out to me… “Do these wounds — past or present — have to define who you are, where you are headed, and how you get there?” I sure hope not!
Thank you ladies for all that is shared here!
I would enjoy reading this book. I’ve found that forgiveness means more than saying “I forgive” it means letting go…
Nancy’s writing has been such an encouragement to me! I’ve never read this book, but it looks really good.
Thank you so much for sharing, I can’t tell you how much I needed this today!!
It is so very hard for me to forgive. Sometimes, I don’t want to let go of that past hurt so I can wave it in their face later. But, I know that’s not the right thing to do. Asking the Lord to take that away is one of the things I’ve found that helps. Of course!:)
Forgiveness is for you. It may bless the other person but it frees your soul up to be filled with God’s Love and Grace. It is totally freeing. I have experienced it and won’t go back. So thankful!!! I want to pass it on to all.
Sounds like an excellent book. What stood out to me was the message that forgiveness is not a method to be learned but a truth to be lived–which applies to so many commands in Scripture.
I own this book and absolutely loved it. I’ve read through it once and then occasionally will pick it up and read snippets here and there. It is hard and sometimes painful to look at one’s own heart and see the bitterness and lack of forgiveness but that is where the healing starts! I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone because in reality, we all have some forgiving to do and that leads to freedom. And what joyous freedom it is! 🙂