Christian Counseling: Is Forgiveness Really Important?
In my Christian Counseling work, I see a lot of confusion as to what forgiveness means and why it’s important. What I’ve come to believe, based on my own experiences and those of my clients, is that it’s essential for moving forward in a healthy way. Let me share a few reasons why.
It is commanded
We are told repeatedly in the Bible that we are to forgive. It’s not an option. It’s not a guideline or recommendation. God is VERY clear that it is expected of us. We get frustrated by this because we fear that by forgiving, we’re letting the offender off the hook. Somehow we believe that by holding the grudge or anger over what happened to us, we punish the offender. But as the famous quote by Marianne Williamson goes:
“Unforgiveness is like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.”
It frees us
Holding onto our hurts holds us prisoner. Making the choice to forgive sets us free from the burden of the ugliness we carry within ourselves when we are hurt or angry at someone. How much energy is wasted replaying what happened and what we wish we would have said or done? How likely are we to become bitter or lash out to innocent people around us? While the person who hurt us is wrong and has sinned, are we sinning by our negative reaction to what they did?
It allows us access back into fellowship with the Father
When we sin, it affects our relationship with our Holy God. It doesn’t remove our salvation (that isn’t possible), but it affects the quality of the relationship. I describe it to my christian counseling clients by saying “There’s now junk in the way, rather than a clear path.” Acknowledging that we have sinned due to our reaction of being hurt and asking for forgiveness, removes those barriers.
It is for the forgiver, not the forgiven
Don’t confuse forgiveness with forgetting. It’s not possible to forget hurts that have occurred. But forgiveness is a conscious choice not to think about the offense over and over again, wishing you’d reacted differently, or that the offender had received what was due him or her. Instead, it is a matter of trusting that God is in the middle of the situation and will take care of you through it.
Forgiveness is not a matter of making a hurt little and pretending that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Quite the contrary. Instead, it is acknowledging that is was such a big deal that it is affecting you in negative ways and you need to let it go so that you can move forward with your life.
Forgiveness is just one of many important steps to take in moving your life in a more joy-filled and peaceful direction. If you’d like some support in taking that step, I invite you to learn more about our Christian Counseling services.