I sat in the counseling room my heart was filled with anger. I was confused and hurting. My anger was directed toward one person. They had hurt me, the pain was overwhelming. I felt justified to feel like this. However, if I stopped to admit it, this pain was destroying me. I was gripped with fear. My anger overflowed and was crushing the ones I loved. Out of my hurt I was hurting others.
While sitting there God showed me this picture. I was standing and opposite me was the person who had hurt me. They were stationary, a ghost-like image. I looked down; my feet were bound in shackles. A chain ran from my feet to this person. In this moment I felt the same feelings, heard the same noises and saw the same events of the past. It was vivid as if it was happening today. Yet in reality it was a memory from my yesterday, something that had happened numerous times when I was little. Here I was shackled unable to move on. They were progressing with their life. My anger and hurt wasn’t affecting them, it was affecting me. I was bound and tortured. A voice said to me, “Tell Jesus everything, how you felt, what you needed, what you wanted, why you are angry, what you felt should have happened. Tell him the injustice you felt. Don’t be afraid, He is listening.” In the beginning I spoke with loud angry words, as I progressed my words mellowed to deeper heartfelt tears.
When I finished I looked up and saw Jesus standing before me. I felt His compassion; I saw that it hurt Him to see me hurting. He was broken by my brokenness. It wasn’t His plan for me to be hurt. He wanted so much more for me. Out of their own inadequacies they had hurt me. They chose their will over God’s will. In His hand was a beautiful sword, it shone like the stars. He said to me “Cheryl take my sword and cut the chain. Cut the chain so that you may be released to take hold of all I have for you. Choose to forgive. Give up your need for justice; let me be your justice. Let me love you where they did not. Let me provide what they took away. Where you felt abandoned, let me surround you with my presence so you are neglected no more. Let me be everything that they were not. I am your safety, I want to heal you.”
With His sword I cut the chain. In that moment came an instant release. Years of torture and bondage came to end. God had made the impossible possible. My own attempts of freedom had fallen short. To get this freedom I had to choose to obey God and trust in His justice. The moment I did, He gave me access to His storehouse of forgiveness. It was no longer an act that I did on my own, but one that I did in partnership with Him. With His power rather than my own.
Forgiveness wasn’t something I found easy to do. In coming to the decision to forgive, I had to learn what forgiveness was not. When Jesus asked me to forgive He wasn’t saying that it was okay for them to hurt me. He said the opposite. Nor did He ask that I trust them again. Trust is something that is earned. Jesus, like me, wanted the hurt to stop. I had to take steps to stop being the victim and instead be the victor. This meant making positive changes such as, putting boundaries in my life. Jesus never forced me to forgive, He waited until I was ready. He listened to me talk about my pain and walked beside me as I travelled through it. Sometimes it took me months to reach the point of forgiveness. Even after doing this initial choice, I found that I had to revisit forgiveness as a new layer of pain revealed itself. I have since learned that forgiveness is something that I need to do continually as part of my day-to-day life.
Forgiveness is a gift. Some may see it as an undeserved gift you give to someone else. I discovered the opposite; it was a gift I received. Every time I reached out to God and chose to forgive I was released from the power of its hurtful hold.
God’s forgiveness extends further than the bondage of my own sin. In His forgiveness is the release of those that have sinned against me. It is extremely powerful in releasing the bound and setting those who are captive free.