So what do you do?
Decide today to do something about it. Get a journal and write down every person's name that you can think of that you "believe" you have forgiven but you still have discomfort when you think of them, or those who you have not. Ask God to help you. Click here to print out the forgiveness worksheet.
Take one at a time and place it on the top of the page. Draw a line down the center of the paper making two columns.
On the left column, write down all the "offenses" this person did that hurt. Many of you may have done this in the past through help by a counselor or even an AA meeting, but this is only the first part. Many are still stewing in their juices as they are brought up and many stay there re-living the pain all over again. But this teaching is to help get rid of the pain once and for all.
So now write down all the things you became BECAUSE of that person. For example: angry, jealous, fearful, unwanted, unloved, bitter, confused, ashamed, embarrassed, rejected, abandoned, depressed, etc. Go ahead and write down as much as you can think of. If you can write things down, then you have NOT forgiven the person, otherwise these things would not be there. These things that you have "become" are YOUR sins that you retained from that relationship.
John 20:23 says that, "Whoseoever sins you remit shall be remitted unto them, and whosoever sins you retain shall be retained." This scripture clearly points out that when you do NOT forgive others, you get their sins! In other words, when you forgive, you do not take on their offenses (sins) but when you don't forgive, you GET their sins. So you are not only carrying around your own sins, but theirs as well. Isn't it a wonder why people don't want to be like the very person that hurt them, yet they turn out to be just like them? It's because the sins of the perpetrator becomes theirs. I find that as I minister to people, when listing this column, these are the very things the other person is experiencing too! Then to take it even further, now we are living through these painful filters, and doing the very things to others that were done to us. What a horrible cycle. We can only give away to others what we have.
It's important to identify any and all sins as it pertains to the person you are forgiving so you can become totally clean. See, it's not what the person did to you that is the issue; it's what you have retained from that person that is the issue. When we come before the Lord and confess these sins, we then are forgiven. Now we are "free" and clean to forgive the person - from our heart! Not just with lip service, and not with a but. What I mean is that you can tell if you truly forgave someone if 1) you have love and compassion for them 2) You don't feel the pain of that memory; and 3) there is no but.. I love you - but.... If you have a but - then you might need to recheck to see if you have truly forgiven from your heart.
Now I'm not saying that you stay in an abusive relationship. But when we forgive from our heart, we see clearly to make sound decisions for our life. AND... one of the greatest benefits of forgiving is that it releases all wrong soul-ties and co-dependent characteristics. What a bonus is that. We talk more in later sessions on soul-ties and co-dependency, but this is a start!
So what is your part in all this? You didn't confess your sins (right side of the column) and receive forgiveness of your sins first so you can be free to forgive others. Your sins bind you to that person! You aren’t free. If some of the individuals are still in your life, you will see that they can control and manipulate you with a look! This means that you still haven’t forgiven them from your heart. When we do, we are no longer tied to them (soul-ties). And that my dear is freedom!
Now take your list to God - those sins on the right column. And by the way, they aren't emotions - they are sins. I John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The reason we have to recognize our sins now is because we never did it back when they happened. So take this list to God and talk with Him.
Here is a sample prayer:
"Father, I come before you with these unresolved and unconfessed sins. I did not receive forgiveness for these things when they happened, so I've been carrying them around all this time. I receive forgiveness for them right now, applying the sacrifice Jesus came to bring us. He paid for all my sins, and I accept that and receive that right now. I ask for forgiveness and thank you for forgiving me for (name off each sin on your list). I receive forgiveness for each and every one, right now. Cleanse me and restore me Lord. I believe by faith that you have cleansed and purged me from all sin. Now I am free to forgive (the person's name), and I thank you for restoration me with (name of person). I also forgive myself. I ask you to put a new heart in me toward (name of person). I ask you to bless them Lord. Love them Lord and let them know you love them too. I also ask you to forgive me for blaming you and restore our relationship with each other Lord. Help me to receive your love right now and fill those areas where the sins left. Help me to "know" you more. In Jesus name, Amen."
Now this is just a sample prayer, prayer is just talking with God. As you have confessed and received forgiveness for your sins, you are now "free" to forgive the person who hurt you. The reason people aren't set free when they forgive, is because they didn't know they "took on" sins that had to be confessed too. Did you know a victim has also sinned? Even those who were raped and abused need to confess their sins. Why? Because when you don't forgive the perpetrator, you take on their sins too! Yikes! I know, I was one such person. I had gone through several abusive relationships along with being raped more than once, but i had to forgive. But I really couldn't forgive them, all that would come up is that shame and feeling dirty. But when I realized that my sins retained was keeping me in pain, that's when I decided to take God at His word. So I wrote down what I became. Not because I did something wrong but because they did something wrong and I "retained" their sins. For example, what I retained was this: Shame, anger, guilt, hate, distrust, feeling dirty, fearful, suspicious, isolated, feeling unsafe, etc. See how even a victim can be filled with sin that has to be confessed?
So now that you have dealt with one person, it's time to continue this same process with the rest. Not in groups, unless it was a group thing, but each person individually. And you just can't say, "I forgive everyone." This is a good place to start, but then facing one by one is the only way you are going to find your peace. I found that the same way it went in is the same way it has to go, one at a time. I had to do this over 200 times. After awhile, I didn't need to write it down, I just went through this process in my mind when I was driving, working, etc. Because when God brings someone to mind, that's when it's time to deal with it, not wait until later. Because I know that God brings someone to mind - maybe a blast from the past - when you are grocery shopping or driving your car. It means it's time to forgive.
Then as you do this with all those who have hurt you from childhood, the layers of pain is removed! Your onion that you had been becomes smaller and smaller (I teach more on the onion principle in a later session). Then to stop having painful things added from this day on, you forgive at the moment you "feel" pain by an offense. If someone does something today to hurt you or offend you, you just say, "I forgive you" and you do it QUICKLY! Right at the time it happened so that their sins won't jump on you and become you! You are not only keeping yourself free, but you are helping the other person to become free, too.
This is how that works. When you forgive someone, you are releasing him or her to God. If you don't forgive them, you are still connected to them in some way (soul-tie) and God cannot move like He wants to in that person's life. So by forgiving them quickly, you are making them free game for God to do His will in their lives too! You'll see.
During my seminars, I teach this principle. Each and every person experienced a lighter feeling because layers of hurt were being removed from their lives, right before our eyes! Some have reported back that when they saw that person again, there was no ill feelings at all, only love and compassion! I know that when we forgive from our heart not only are we set free, but others are too.