We left yesterday on a warm note of remembrance of the past.  However, to give a balanced view, we must note that not all memories are good ones.  And every Christmas season, some families seemed doomed to replay the not so merry times of the past.

What magic dust makes us believe that everyone just grows out of dysfunction … or that any season of the year has the power to make us love someone we always secretly resented or frankly, disliked?  It makes for an even more interesting picture if that someone happens to be someone in our own family.

Members of families who don’t get together but on occasions like Christmas have often repressed the bad memories of the past.  It is amazing how quickly two adults can deteriorate into a variation of “Mom always liked you best.”

There is a gift we won’t find under the tree.  It is The Gift of Forgiveness … a Gift you can give others … a Gift they can give you … and A Gift that God gives as a Larger Gift than any of us can give.

Let’s look at how the Gift of Forgiveness looks unwrapped.  It may look a little strange (and backwards to the way we usually think) until you unwrap it all the way.    

  1. Thank God for those people who hurt you.  Thank Him for whatever effect they had on your life.  Be aware that even difficult times are sometimes gifts to help us grow.
  2. Acknowledge to God that you still hurt, even in little ways.  Nothing is too trivial.  It could be the time your brother pulled your pigtails and it really hurt.  (And of course, he might say, it was that time his sister hit him in the face, after he gently tugged at her pigtails! … we all remember from our own vantage point!)  If you can remember it, it is likely the hurt is still there.
  3. Ask God’s forgiveness for holding on to those hurts.    What?  You might say.  They need to be asking God’s forgiveness and mine for what they did to me!  God talked a lot about our forgiving others.  True forgiveness includes forgetting the wrong.  
  4. How do you forget?  Cardinal rule:  you do not forget by remembering.  You may have discovered this on a diet.  If you constantly think, “I can’t eat chocolate cake”, you will discover that the world turns into visions of chocolate cake and eventually you feel you could mug someone for a piece of chocolate cake.  
  5. On our computer, how do we begin again?  We hit delete.  We don’t even save the old file.  We type something brand new.  Jesus said, “Don’t curse the darkness.  Turn on the light!”  Every time a negative thought comes to mind, immediately hit delete and replace it with a good thought about the person.
  6. Pray that the people who caused you pain never hurt anyone else.  Pray that they receive a new spirit of sensitivity to others.  Pray for their hearts to be filled with such a Love of God that it overflows into everyone with whom they come in contact.  Pray that they be freed of old hurts themselves, so they do not pass those hurts on to others.  
  7. Don’t they need to pay for what they did?  If I can’t get them, can’t I at least watch God deal with them?  Answer:  No.  It is a private matter between them and God.  But the results of what happens in their heart may be a gift you get to give to world … because they are different from this day forward.  

 

The irony of giving such a gift is that it flows back to you immediately.  Does this mean the person for whom you prayed will kiss your feet?  No, you may find they act the same as they always did.  Life is a process.  Some things happen immediately.  Some take time.  But the immediate Gift given is the One from God to you.

When you turn loose of the holding of the grudge, your hands become free to receive.  God will give you a new Gift in line with the Gift you just gave.  He will forgive you.  Often we concentrate on our own hurt so intently that we do not realize we have hurt others.  As you clear your memory of those hurts you have experienced, ask God to bring to your memory anyone you may have hurt.  Ask His forgiveness.

The wonder of it all is that as you have freed those who you allowed to bind you with resentment, you will also be freed by the Forgiveness of the Father.  

To whom would you like to give the Gift of Forgiveness this Christmas?  Are you ready to receive that Gift yourself?  God has it wrapped and waiting for you! 

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, 

 your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.

Matthew 6:14

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:34

{Love} is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  

1st Corinthians 13:5


About carolynpriesterjones

Follower of Jesus, Seeker of Truth, Commentator on Life, Light Bearer, Water Carrier, one of God’s Creations still under construction

3 responses »

  1. Claudia says:

    Awesome and well stated message for this time of year especially.
    Concisely stated and practical and necessary and hard to do!

    We all need reminders of the steps and the power of forgiveness
    because “hurt” happens so easily in this culture we live inside.

    Thank you!

  2. Claudia says:

    i REALLY like the idea of giving a “Gift of Forgiveness”

  3. Claudia says:

    One more comment – this post is so meaningful…

    I got an opportunity to “practice this topic” this week. ;>)
    I learned that intercessory prayer and personal prayer helps get rid of the “sting” from the hurts and helps the process of forgiveness reach completion.

    I also had to immerse myself in God’s written word – the Bible to work through the pain.

    I guess that means God’s grace is necessary to complete the process of forgiveness…
    and that forgiveness is a divine process and sometimes a multiple layered process…
    and as an intentional task we must persevere to reach the fruit of freedom from
    the hurt and pain.

    I hope my thoughts encourage others….

    Thank you again for writing this post.

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