Forgiveness isn’t always a one and done act.
When you feel hurt or wronged or misunderstood or misinterpreted or maligned, it’s easy for unforgiveness to drip into your soul and ferment, seeping into more layers of your attitude and actions than you realize.
When you feel those hot emotions flare or the hear the crack of cynicism in your thoughts or words, it’s a sign you’ve become tied to what’s happened in an unhealthy way.
Freedom awaits through forgiveness.
Yet sometimes it’s not easy to forgive. A friend who I trusted recently did something that made me feel betrayed. She never intended to hurt me, but the wound cut deep. Since then every time I’ve looked at her I haven’t really seen her. I’ve seen the betrayal, felt the pain, and echoed the question, “How could you?”
I’ve said I forgive her aloud to myself and to God. But to be honest, the forgiveness wasn’t sticking. I was just as angry the next time I saw her.
That’s when learned the importance of practicing 360 Degree Forgiveness.
360 Degree Forgiveness invites us to look upward, outward, inward, and all around as we pursue forgiveness.
For me, that meant realizing I was miffed at God for allowing the situation to happen.
Let me be clear: God is perfect. God never needs our forgiveness for a something that happened. But sometimes we have to practice forgiveness toward God for our own healing and freedom.
In the case of my friend, I was angry that God didn’t stop or prevent the situation from happening. Though I didn’t want to say it aloud, I was fuming mad at God. And releasing that anger meant saying, God, though you have done no wrong, I forgive you for what I had perceived as a wrong. Will you forgive me for being mad at you?
In practicing forgiveness toward God, I found that suddenly I could talk to God about the situation in ways I couldn’t have before. I began to see my friend from God’s perspective, one of love and compassion and understanding.
God can do no wrong but sometimes in our heart we feel wronged by god and so we need to release God from our anger, disappointment, frustration —in the process we begin having more honest conversations than we ever have and experience deeper healing
I also needed to forgive my friend. This time I didn’t just forgive her aloud, I blessed her and prayed for her. I even did something kind. In the process, my hard heart softened. And I asked God to forgive me for my unforgiveness.
All that seething had made me inwardly toxic. I didn’t even want to be around myself when I was around her and that was frustrating. This may sound strange, but I needed to forgive myself for being mad at myself for behaving in such an unpleasant way. So after forgiveness reached upward and outward, it needed to reach inward.
True freedom also meant remembering the person I’d unloaded on and asking for their forgiveness for my anger and angst. The person said, “You were fine, no worries.” But somehow reaching out gave me an even deeper sense of freedom.
Scripture encourages us toward 360 Degree Forgiveness when Christ says in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Our ability to be forgiven is intrinsically linked to our ability to forgive others. Let’s start practicing this radical forgiveness today.
Which is hardest for you—practicing 360 Degree Forgiveness upward, outward, inward, or all around?