Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Rayna
Blog post by: Rayna Piazza
Forgiveness is Vital to Emotional Healing
Forgiveness is vital to your emotional healing. The first time I was told that I needed to forgive one of my abusers I scoffed and I said, “Me forgive him? I didn’t do anything!!” As a sixteen year old then my heart was so broken. I am a work in progress, but I will say this…Jesus has healed my heart of a childhood of sexual abuse.
The abuse started when I was just five or six years old. I blocked the majority of the abuse I endured from my memory until my late thirties. One of my counselors once told me that she had a sexual abuse patient who described her memories as a privilege. She explained that as she got healed from one thing, she felt she had the privilege of learning more about herself, uncovering more old memories, and in turn receiving more healing. In other words, she had to heal on one level to get to the next level of healing.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I’ll make a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read the full disclosure here.
Forgiveness Comes In Stages
Our hearts have layers like an onion. As one layer is healed another layer exists below that will need a deeper level of healing. I believe that God doesn’t have us deal with the deeper layers in our heart until we are ready. He waits until with have the coping skills we need to face the underlying pain. It’s like having a callous on your hand. The callous goes away when the skin under it is healed enough to not injure again. As the outer layers of your heart heal, the inner layers strengthen and are able to face the pain. This is part of the journey. And, I believe the journey to healing your heart starts with forgiveness.
I want to talk about forgiveness today because I believe it is a pivotal part of healing your heart. Forgiveness is vital to you moving on and getting past the hard stuff! If you cannot forgive you cannot be healed. I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. But the beautiful part is that you are not alone. Jesus is by your side every step of the way. The Word of God says:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-16, NKJV
Forgiveness Can Be Difficult At First
When I was told I had to forgive my abuser for sexually molesting me, misusing my trust, and taking full advantage of me I was outraged. After all, I was the one who was abused; the one who lived in fear of being raped by him. I was the one who had endured the shame of what he had done to me. My mind could remember that day like it was yesterday. I also remember my sixteen year old heart deciding that I would not forgive him that day or ever. I was so hurt and I walked away from the Lord. My pain kept me from the real One who would heal me. The problem was I didn’t know that. At least not yet.
Then, years later, I came across this scripture and it really resonated in my heart. I could not stop pondering it. It was Romans 8:28.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans 8:28, NKJV
I thought about the abuse I had endured and about God using it all for good. I thought about me being called according to His purpose. And, at the age of 26, I made a decision to serve God again. I came to the conclusion that I could not do this life alone and I wanted Jesus’s help. That’s when I made the decision to start going back to church and I dedicated my heart to Jesus again. I set out on a journey to know who God really was. This journey began with forgiveness.
What Forgiveness Is
- Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a decision to walk in the love of Jesus Christ. It does not always feel good and our emotions may not always line up with our choice to forgive. However, it is a choice that you make out of obedience to Jesus Christ based on scripture.
- Forgiveness is when you decide to let go of an offense you have with someone. It is that moment when you decide to deal with the hurt in your heart, and release your offender. Some people forgive with their mouth but do not forgive with their heart. This is not true forgiveness. True forgiveness involves a heart change.
Love One AnotherColossians 3: 12-14, The Passion Translation
12 You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. 13 Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. 14 For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word forgive as ‘to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).’ You will know that you forgave with your heart when you have released the resentment. Resentment is when you have ill will towards someone due to being wronged by them in some way. So, forgiveness is when you give your heart permission to release the resentment, negative feelings, and ill will toward your offender.
Hurting people hurt people. Your offender hurt you because they were hurt themselves in one way or another. And, just like you make mistakes against others, your offender has made a mistake against you. As the Word says, we are called to forgive anything against anyone (Mark 11:25). That “anything” included me forgiving my abuser. Some would say sexual abuse or rape is unforgivable, but that’s not true according to the Word of God.
What Forgiveness Is Not
- Forgiveness is not always paired with reconciliation. Reconciliation would only be appropriate if the person you are forgiving shows remorse for what they did and if they were safe to go back into relationship with. I eventually forgave my abuser that I mentioned earlier, but that did not mean I was supposed to go back into relationship with him. He was not a safe person for me. However, I was still required to forgive him to heal my heart. Extending true heart forgiveness is a sign of maturity and it sets us free to love others as Jesus loves us. That’s why Jesus calls us to forgive. And, as our hearts are healed we can help to encourage others to heal their hearts.
- Forgiveness is not saying your offender was right. Rather, forgiveness is handing over your offense to God and trusting Him to make it right. True justice is the healing of our hearts. And, the journey begins with forgiveness.
- Another important point, on the other end of the spectrum, is to understand that admitting you need to forgive someone you love is not saying that they are an all-out bad person because they hurt you. You are only recognizing that there is pain in your heart and it needs to be addressed with forgiveness toward the other person. Take one of your parents for instance. If you grew up in a healthy home, you can probably think of more ways that your parent blessed you than ways that your parent hurt you. However, there are times where you were hurt by your parent in one way or another, even though you had a good home. And, those memories need to be dealt with by releasing unforgiveness. Choosing to forgive sets your heart free. Just because someone has done more good for your life than bad does not mean that you skip over dealing with the pain of the bad times.
Unforgiveness that is not dealt with allows the pain to stay in your heart and torment you. I encourage you to forgive and let it out.
Think About The Story of Joseph And His Brothers
Remember the story of Joseph, son of Jacob, in the Old Testament. Joseph was left for dead by his brothers and endured years of hardship. Then, the day came many years later when he was face to face with his brothers. Joseph had a choice. Would he forgive? Read Genesis chapters 37-50 for the entire story, but (spoiler alert!) here was Joseph’s response to his brothers:
You meant to hurt me, but God turned your evil into good to save the lives of many people, which is being done. So don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” So Joseph comforted his brothers and spoke kind words to them.Genesis 50:20-21, NCV
Questions To Ask Yourself About Forgiveness
- Will you use the pain and hardship that you have endured for the good of others?
- What did your emotional pain and forgiveness of others teach you?
- How will you use these lessons to better your life and the life of your family?
I have learned that the sexual abuse I endured does not define me. I ministered to teenage girls in a group foster home for four years. In those years I would pray fervently for these girls. I wanted each one of them to know deep in their heart that they are loved and wanted; to know that their pain, rejection, and abandonment didn’t define them. I also wanted them to know they could still chase after their dreams and become the person they always dreamed of being.
Then, one day Jesus said to me, “You know your prayers you have for your teenagers? I want the same for you. I want you to know that you are not defined by your pain. You are defined by My love and My plans for your life. Will you trust me?”
Be encouraged. You also are defined by His love and His plans for your life. It is your choice. Will you begin to forgive and walk out of the pain? Will you trust Him? If so, here is a prayer you can pray to get set free.
Prayer for Claiming Back the Ground of Others’ Sins Against Me by Dr. Joe Allbright*
If God shows you something that someone has done to you, take his/her sin to the cross and pray: “Lord Jesus, by the power of Your blood, on the cross You became (name the person and their specific sin against you). I ask You not to lay that sin to (person’s) charge. I ask you to forgive (person), for he/she really doesn’t fully know what he/she did to me. And, Lord Jesus, by the power of Your blood, and only through Your power, can I, and do I choose to forgive (person) for what he/she did to me.”
Pray unloading all the emotions surrounding this incident:“Lord, I want to dump on the cross the (any and all emotions you are in touch with—or remember—relating to their sin against you).”
Command Satan and claim back your ground: “Satan, by the power of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command that you give me back the ground that (the person and their sin) gave you in my life.
Then, ask the Lord for healing, cleansing, and restoration: “Dear Lord Jesus, please saturate the ground with Your precious blood. Heal it, cleanse it, and totally restore it. Heal my mind, body, soul, and spirit. And, dear Lord Jesus, please heal my memories. I let go of all negative feelings and negative fallout from this memory. I want no negative effects affecting my life or my family’s life, present or future. Any demon spirits that have been able to stand on this ground to emotionally and mentally harass or manipulate me, I want them in the pit (the abyss, not hell) by the authority of the Lord Jesus (Luke 8:31, Revelation 9:12). Now, Lord Jesus, please seal the doorway to that part of my soul.”
Finally, release it all to Christ, and praise Him for what He’s done in your life: “Lord, I want to praise You and thank You that You have, and that You will, work all of this together for my good. I release it to You. Lord Jesus, by faith I let go of it. I no longer have to carry around its negative effects. I praise and thank You for the victory and the deliverance. Amen”
Continue to let God show you each person and his/her sin again you, taking each to the cross until all ground is reclaimed.
*Excerpt from page 105 of Liberating the Bruised by Dr. Joe Allbright
Did this blog post speak to your heart? I hope so! Sign up today to receive my emails featuring the latest from Seeking Him Today by going to our Stay In Touch page.