Coming from a faulty understanding of forgiveness, I unfortunately know the ways in which holding onto pain and bitterness can harm us.
Today, after being on a journey of learning more about true forgiveness and walking it out, I can confirm that there is an incredible difference between the two!
When true forgiveness occurs, there is an actual exchange that takes place. The pain and lies can get handed over, and Jesus' truth can fill the space that was previously occupied by hurt. We learn to stop holding onto anger, sadness, bitterness, and judgement - using these as false protections to cover us - and to invite Jesus back into His rightful place as Lord of our lives.
It is a command from Jesus to forgive if we want to be forgiven. I used to somehow think that that didn't really mean what it said...but it does! And for so much good reason. Forgiveness brings salvation, freedom, truth, healing, realness, hope, abundance, right identity, clarity, peace, wholeness, good fruit, and the ability to live like Jesus did.
Yes it can be hard. Yes it will cost us. Yes there may be difficult decisions to make. Yes it might not feel 'deserved'. But the more we grapple with the grace of the cross and allow God's love to heal us, the more our perspective can shift into the value system of His upside down Kingdom of mercy over judgement.
In a place of real forgiveness we get to be honest about the hurt that was incurred - this is a vital part of the process - but then we get to choose to give it to Jesus and to accept His truth instead.
There is what we have all been looking for on the other side of this: true intimacy, with God and with people.
I promise it is worth it! And you are worth it! Let Jesus show you the truth about who you really are today and empower you to let go of everything else. It will save you and those who follow!