For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14 NIV
The principle of forgiveness is a difficult one for many people, especially those who have been abused, neglected, or violated. And sadly, a great many of those with eating disorders fit that description. It’s one thing to forgive the woman who cut you off on the freeway, for example, but how do you forgive a parent who abandoned you? Or an abuser who violated your most basic human rights? Or perhaps the most difficult person for an addict of any kind to forgive—how do you forgive yourself?
If I could, I would tell you that you could pick and choose whom to forgive and to what extent. I would tell you partial, selective forgiveness is good enough. But if our scripture passage is true (and all scripture is), that would mean our Heavenly Father could measure out our own forgiveness similarly—that such as we forgive, so too would we be forgiven. And I don’t know about you, but I need total forgiveness, absolute pardon, over and over and over again. I’m just not perfect enough for anything else. Are you?
Forgiveness is not something we can get out of. There simply aren’t any loopholes. But that’s only half the truth. Thankfully, the larger part is that our call to forgiveness is an invitation from our loving Father, who tenderly holds our best interests at heart—always. God invites us to a life and a lifestyle of forgiveness, because when we walk in forgiveness and mercy toward ourselves and others, we let go of the bitterness that would otherwise ensnare us (Hebrews 12:14-15). The more tightly we hold on to a grudge, the more tightly that grudge holds us.
When we hold on to grudges and harbor bitterness and resentment in our heart toward others, we are the ones who suffer. In fact, it has been said that holding onto resentment and refusing to forgive an offender is like drinking poison and then waiting for the other person to die. Usually, the other person will go about his or her life, largely unaware of the unrest we have chosen to invite into our hearts by not releasing them into the hands of God and allowing Him to avenge us. In other words, forgiveness really isn’t for the benefit of the offender so much as it is for us. In fact, forgiveness actually unleashes us from the control that our offenders might otherwise have in our lives.
Free of the root of bitterness, we become able to live open-hearted and open-handed, seeing others as God sees them, and as God sees us: fallible, broken humanity in need of love. And without a root of bitterness choking the life out of our hearts, we abandon ourselves to love others, to love God, and to love ourselves.
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What steps would make you more willing to forgive?
by: Jena Morrow
Jena Morrow’s debut book, “Hope,” chronicles her nearly three-decade-long battle with eating and body image issues. In her second book, “Hope for the Hollow,” Jena takes readers on a thirty-day devotional journey to challenge eating disordered thoughts and beliefs in light of God’s Word. In addition to being a writer, speaker, and activist for eating disorder awareness and prevention, Jena works as the Alumnae Coordinator at Timberline Knolls in Lemont, IL, a premiere residential treatment center for women and girls battling eating disorders, substance abuse, mood disorders, self-injury, and PTSD. Jena makes her home in a suburb of Chicago with her son, Jaden, his pet snake Stephanie, and a mischievous cat named Prim.