Do you have trouble moving on from the past?
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV).
Last week, I was walking downtown on a sidewalk, and approaching me in a car was a man I had not seen in years. The last time I did see this man it was a difficult moment for both of us.
Nothing moral or unethical but a disagreement over leadership style.
I looked at him and waved and he saw me, turned his head, and drove on.
HHHHMMMHHM, the disagreement was six years ago. I don’t have animosity toward him. I hope his “head-turning” isn’t bitterness; perhaps he didn’t see me.
Six years is a long time to remember a disagreement. We all find ourselves in uncomfortable and even deep offense with others, but the solution is the same …
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead!
For a transition, an emotional wound, separation, or a major or minor fracture in a relationship, it often takes two years to heal. The website, PychCentral, reports that according to research, people who experience deep grief show improvement in symptoms after two years, but the symptoms largely resolve in about one to two years.
One thing will inhibit healing – bitterness.
Let’s take the Moving On test.
Imagine someone who offended you at least two years ago. When you think of this person does your blood pressure rise while imagining them meeting Freddy Krueger in a dark alley at night?
Perhaps you haven’t moved on!
If you have bitterness toward a person years after the offense, there is something wrong with your forgiveness.
God does not look at this person the same way. He has already extended His grace and mercy. You should do the same. As Jesus teaches …
Then Peter came up and said to Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times (Matthew 18:21-22).
How can you forgive someone? How can you overcome bitterness?
I once was given this image or technique …
Imagine a person that you have hateful and hurtful thoughts about. You are both standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus looks down and says to both of you, “I forgive you.” Realize that while the person standing next to you has committed an offense against you, you have committed grievous offenses against others.
Some personalities don’t forgive easily, and some offenses are worse than others. Forgiveness is needed for all offenses, or the accumulation of bitterness will poison your soul.
You might use the technique above, and if it doesn’t seem to work, keep doing it every time you think of this person and add the words …
Okay, Lord, as you have forgiven me, I forgive them.
You might have to do this seventy times seven, but the grace of Jesus will sooner or later take control. You will find freedom.
Take the Moving On test often. We constantly offend one another.