“I have thought about killing him, but forgiving him? That was not even on my radar screen,” retorted a friend whose daughter is the recipient of regular physical abuse by her husband. Forgiveness can be complicated. It does not mean we excuse bad behavior or try to justify it. Denial is the easy way out and gain nothing by our refusal to admit the reality of a bad situation. And, our wound is deepened if we try to pretend that we are not hurt by it. Our Father says that forgiveness is the first step to cleaning out that oozing wound. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT) I have had my share of body blows of hurt, disappointment, and pain that required me to both ask for and offer forgiveness. Yet, forgiving myself is the hardest choice I have to make. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 (NLT) I know that I can’t change anyone else – that is God’s job. But I can do something about me! Several months may be necessary while I seek His face and the Spirit softens my hard heart and shows me areas of sin. Then I have a choice – accept the gift of forgiveness offered to me or reject it because of my pride. Don’t be undone if you have to go through this process of introspection more than once. Some offenses take years to build up and an equally long time to set free. But God is faithful in His love and forgiveness and sustains us each step of the way. He promises to bring joy, relief, contentment, and freedom. Trust Him!

Give me happiness, O Lord, for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Listen closely to my prayer, O Lord; hear my urgent cry. Psalm 86:4-6 (NLT)