The Seventh Big Lie: ‘Forgiveness is only for those who deserve it or earn it.’
The fact that you are even reading these words is a miracle, because you have read a lot of stuff on forgiveness and understand everyone’s angle on it, and none of it does one bit of good for you and your situation. You have been abused, mistreated, or neglected in such a severe way that you believe that forgiveness of that person or persons is impossible for you to experience. You are a good and kind and loving person, but there is one person that you harbor a grudge against, and you plan on keeping it. The person does not deserve to be forgiven by you or by God. Anyone looking at what happened would say that you are totally entitled to your feelings.
If what I have described above is the way you feel, or you feel that way to a lesser degree, I am hoping and praying right now as I write this that this could be the time when everything changes for you. I am praying that as you read on I can help you walk through some steps and help you make some choices that lead you to the choice to forgive the unforgivable. And if you are someone who has not been hurt deeply, I pray that you will use these words to minister to someone else who is struggling because he or she is unable or unwilling to forgive. I pray that in the future if you are ever hurt deeply, you might come back to this and use it to walk out the anger, bitterness, and resentment.
The Most Dangerous Thing on Earth
We live in a world where danger and terror are all around us. We live with uncertainty each new day because we never know what might befall us. Since9/11 most of us have a little more fear of terror in the world that might one day intersect with our personal world. There is something much more dangerous than a terrorist somewhere out there in the world that may or may not harm us one day. There is something worse, much worse than that. It is worse because it can exist within us and affect everything we do and the very person we become. That internal terrorist is called a ‘justifiable resentment’.
A lot of people have resentments. Some just seem to have a bad attitude about life, and they lean toward resenting everything. They resent paying taxes, paying more than a dollar for a gallon of gas, or being asked by their church to give money to support the new building campaign. They resent the person they are living with. That person is not bad, but the ‘resenter’ collects little things done over time and walks around with a huge collection of little things to hold against the person. It makes him feel a bit superior, so he hangs on to everything he can find. Resenters go through life pretty negative on anything and everything. They have a problem, but it is nothing like what I am going to describe. These petty resentments are real resentments, but they are not the type that will kill you.
A justifiable resentment is the type of resentment that will kill you. It is not about anything petty. It is about real and horrible abuse or mistreatment. It is about a real life event that anyone would say was terribly wrong, and most anyone would tell you that you are totally justified in feeling the way you do. Tenderhearted people will cry with you over it, and many probably have. All the evidence supports your feelings of anger, resentment, bitterness, and unwillingness to forgive. The other person does not deserve it, and no one wants him or her to have it. That is what I call a justifiable resentment.
Do you have a justifiable resentment? We’d like to help. Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.
Filed Under: Anger Management, Forgiveness, Surviving Sexual Abuse Tagged With: bitterness, choice, everything, God, Life, person, resentment, Stephen ArterburnThe, way, World
The Choice to Forgive: Healing is a Choice Part 2
August 17, 2006 By New Life Leave a Comment
Real resentment over real damage by a real person produces a justifiable resentment, and it becomes such a huge part of your life that it feels like a vulture sitting on top of you, a dark and dangerous presence that affects everything that you do.
If the resentment was not justifiable, someone could just talk you out of it. A friend could tell you things he or she has told others who had a bad attitude;
1. Stop being so negative
2. Look at the bright side of things
3. Stop seeing the glass half empty
4. Start thinking more positively
5. Look for the good in people
6. Try accepting people for who they are.
These are the things people say to someone who just needs to make a few changes to make herself more comfortable and enjoy life more.
But none of those things apply to you, because you have something to hang on to. There is a date and a person and a trauma that really happened. It is your Auschwitz, and those who know of your terrible ordeal support your feelings. That is the problem; no one questions your feelings. Everyone feels horrible for you, so it is easy for you to hang on to the resentment. Anyone would, but you can’t.
You can’t, because it is eating you alive. It is your own internal terrorist that is destroying your life, keeping you from living the best life possible. It is hurting your relationship with God and with others. You will be firmly rooted to your past and to your abuse as long as the justifiable resentment grows within you. Everything you do in life will lean up against your grudge. It will come to define who you are and limit what you can become.
Although it might be very difficult to imagine, you really can be free from that justifiable resentment. You can let it go and experience the healing power of forgiveness. You can choose to heal a very troubled area of your soul by choosing to walk through a path of forgiveness. And if you take this path, something very amazing is going to happen to you one day.
One day you are going to awaken and realize that everything in your life has changed. You will sense that you are no longer rooted in your past. You will realize that what once defined your life and your inner thoughts is no longer relevant to how you live your life. You won’t forget what happened, but you will be aware of something with the magnitude of a fly you just swoosh away. That little fly is nothing compared to the vulture that now sits atop your head, talons deeply implanted in your heart. One day you will awaken and that vulture will no longer be there, and you will be free!
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you’re carrying justifiable resentment, we’d like to help. Please join us at our next New Life Weekend.
Filed Under: Anger Management, Forgiveness, Surviving Sexual Abuse Tagged With: everything, God, healing, Life, person, relationship with god, resentment, something
Keeping the Faith – No Matter What
June 5, 2005 By New Life Leave a Comment
‘Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me’ (Psalm 86:6-7).
In my short 19 years in this world, I had been fortunate enough to never really experience the ‘day of trouble’ mentioned in that verse. In November of 2004, I had a great family, loyal friends, and a boyfriend; I was doing well in school and competing in the Miss Arizona program. Then one night, my life changed drastically, and I now understand what Psalm 86 means.
On November 9, 2004, I came home from my night class at Arizona State University, did some things to prepare for the upcoming Miss Scottsdale pageant, and took a shower. When I got out around 9:30 p.m., a man was waiting for me in the hallway. He took me by surprise, threw a towel over my head, and raped me. The man threatened me with a knife, and I had no choice but to comply with his demands.
The rape was the most terrifying experience of my life. During those 45 minutes, I thought about what it would be like to be stabbed, what it would feel like to have my throat cut, and who would find my body after I died. It was horrible to think of never seeing my family again, and I was terrified of being murdered. However, because of my relationship with Christ, I knew where I would go after I died. DYING frightened me, but DEATH did not.
I am so glad that I was able to have that sense of peace because I know the Lord.
I know God was with me during the rape. I prayed throughout those 45 minutes, and I had ‘God thoughts’ that I know were not of my own mind. I remember thinking that I needed to forgive the man that was raping me. I would not have been able to think that if God had not been with me. I believe that God also distracted me by letting me think about other things, such as the pageant, and by helping me focus on the voice and size of the rapist so that I might be able to identify him in the future.
God did not abandon me during the rape, and He has never left me since. With His help, I was able to win the Miss Scottsdale pageant four days after the rape, and I have since changed my community service platform to ‘Strength Over Silence: Rape Awareness and Recovery.’ God has opened so many doors for me to speak about my experience, share my testimony, and raise awareness about rape. He is definitely taking this awful event and using it for His glory.
Unfortunately, rape is all too common in our society, and many people can relate to my experience.
It is my hope that even if you cannot identify with my story, you will be able to get hope from my experience. I know everyone has troubles and hardships in life, but with Christ’s help, we can make it through anything.
Whenever I am feeling down, I remember what Christ said in John 16:33. ‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’