We must forgive those who hurt us. The reason is simple: Bitterness and unforgiveness set their hooks deep in our hearts; they are chains that hold us captive to the wounds and the messages of those wounds. Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner. Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Eph. 4:31; Heb. 12:15). We have to let it all go.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col. 3:13)
Now—listen carefully. Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling—don’t try and feel forgiving. It is an act of the will. “Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving,” wrote Neil Anderson. “You will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made.” We allow God to bring the hurt up from our past, for “if your forgiveness doesn’t visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete,” said Anderson. We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to our fathers, our mothers, those who hurt us. This is not saying, “It didn’t really matter”; it is not saying, “I probably deserved part of it anyway.” Forgiveness says, “It was wrong. Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you. I give you to God. I will not be your captive here any longer.”
It might help to remember that those who hurt you were also deeply wounded themselves. They were broken hearts, broken when they were young, and they fell captive to the Enemy. They were in fact pawns in his hands. This doesn’t absolve them of the choices they made, the things they did. It just helps us to let them go—to realize that they were shattered souls themselves, used by our true Enemy.