Saturday, June 8, 2013

When To Let Go

Dear Lisa,

I'm so sorry you have been hurt by a person you were supposed to be able to trust. It's one of the worst feelings in the world. It feels like you've been taken advantage of and it's so difficult to trust again. For about 5 years, I harbored deep resentment towards a man who touched me inappropriately by giving me neck massages, trying to hold my hand, rub my shoulders, be alone with me, etc. No matter how many times I asked him to stop, he didn't. Finally, the man was removed from my life by men who care about me and I haven't seen him since. I found out later that I was the beginning of "rock bottom" for this man. He's now changed and fully given his life to the Lord. But I felt resentful. I should have been happy for him, but I wasn't because I was suffering inside. You see, I had never been on a date, never held hands with a guy, and this guy blew in to my world and took from me things I was saving. I was so angry that I didn't have the choice to give those first touches to someone I loved because he robbed them from me. I felt such incredible anger at him and especially at God for allowing it to happen. The pain, the hurt, the internal and emotional suffering came to a head about three years ago. I was tired of drinking the poison of anger, shame, and unforgiveness - and I was the one who kept filling up the cup to drink from.

About that time, my pastor did a sermon on forgiveness. It was one of the hardest sermons I've ever sat through. I was reminded that God didn't partially forgive me of my sins. He forgave me from ALL of my sins. The things I did to God hurt Him worse than how this man hurt me, which is unthinkable. But God fully forgave me of my sins. Not only did He forgive me of all of them, He promised that they are gone from His memory and never to be brought up again. If I bring them up, it's my own issue, but He promises that they are erased from His memory (Psalm 103:12). Because He did this and can continue to do it, why shouldn't He require the same of me? Why can't I offer complete forgiveness to this man? My pastor said the way to truly know that you've forgiven an offender after saying that they are forgiven is to acknowledge that, "I won't ever bring it up again to the offender, anybody else, or to myself, and I won't rehearse the hurt in my mind." Those words were the key to unlocking the merry-go-round I was riding. I've been guilty of every item on that list, especially rehearsing the hurt in my mind.

Aren't you tired of feeling hurt and angry all the time? I was. It was exhausting. Holding on to the hurt gave me power over nothing. It didn't matter to the man who hurt me. I wasn't even on his radar screen. He had moved on. He wasn't holding me back - I was. Holding on to the hurt and rehearsing it in my mind only made ME bitter and resentful to him and it spilled over to other relationships. Yes, he stole from me. But I was inflicting as much damage on myself. It was hard saying the words "I forgive you" because it meant moving on, letting go, and as weird as it sounds, yes, it was hard to do. But once I did it, it was like walking outside after a storm, surveying the damage, and knowing you could clean the mess up. Things wouldn't be the way they were before the storm, but they could be new, brighter, better. There was hope.

My sweet sister, three years of holding on to hurt is an indication in every way possible that you should let "it" go. Every day you don't let "it" go, you put yourself back into the cycle of hurt and anger. I am here to tell you forgiveness doesn't offer an excuse for what happened, it doesn't trivialize what happened, it offers freedom from what happened. But only you can say, "I forgive you, and I choose not to let the hurt you inflicted upon me control me any longer." I hope you can get to that place. It's such a place of freedom. Three years from now, where do you want to be? Living in freedom or still holding on to the hurt? I know what God wants for you... and I know deep down inside you do too.

You are loved.


This letter is in response to the question Lisa asked in response to this picture posted on the 95.1 SHINE-FM Facebook page:

Lisa asked: "what if it has mattered for almost 3 yrs. now? is that an indication that I should not let "it" go?- "it" being the way I have been horribly treated by the person who was supposed to be my best friend /the person I gave my everything to for 16 (now 18) faithful years?"

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~ Jack & Erin

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