Let it Go: Flowing Freely in Forgiveness

elsaMany of you will be familiar with the songs from one of Disney’s latest movies – ‘Frozen.’ ‘Let it Go’ and the other catchy songs feature prominently in our household. ‘Frozen’ is a worldwide craze. The Frozen soundtrack has been no 1 on the US charts for many weeks. The title of this popular song reminded me of the topic of forgiveness. The ‘let it go’ song that I am all too familiar with is not specifically about forgiveness. But there is truth in this song that grown ups can take hold of too. About letting go of the past and of other people’s opinions. There are many parody versions of this song around. Perhaps someone ought to write a parody version of ‘Let it Go’ on the theme of forgiveness. I’m no lyricist, but here is my version of the words:

I see them all in the distance,

Not a smile to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation, and they are really mean,

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside

Couldn’t keep it in;

Heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see

Hide away so they don’t hurt me,

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know,

Well now they know.

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold on anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care what they’re going to say

Let forgiveness reign.

It now doesn’t bother me anyway.

It’s funny how some distance,

Makes everything seem small,

And the pain that once controlled me,

Can’t get to me at all,

It’s time to see what I can do,

To lay it down and break through

Forgive, let go, no grudge for me, I’m free!

Let it go, let it go

I am one with the Lord on high

Let it go, let it go

Hear my heart’s cry

Here I stand

And here I’ll stay

Let the day go on,

It now doesn’t bother me anyway.

frozen hug

Forgiveness is a big topic and one that the Bible is not silent on. Forgiveness is something that I have battled with and it is something that I have had to work on. I have found that to be in relationship with others I need to be able to forgive, and for others to be in relationship with me they need to be able to forgive too. Because none of us are perfect. We are all sinful and we are often hurting each other, often without realising it. It’s not easy to forgive. I have been known to hold a grudge and it is not something that I like about myself. I want to be able to ‘let it go’. To forgive and to brush it off. After all, life is too short and relationships are too precious to hold on to petty hurts and grievances.  We need to be ready to forgive over and over again. The Bible mentions forgiveness frequently.

‘Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.’ (Colosians 3:13)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you’. (Ephesians 4:31)

Amish Grace

I have always been fascinated by the Amish as they are somewhat of a mystery. The way they live is fascinating, and I’ve admired their simplicity and gentleness. I don’t think I’d want to become Amish as I couldn’t blog! I’ve never heard of an Amish blogger and I think I’d look pretty funny in one of those outfits. But jokes aside, last week I viewed a really moving Amish film. It was called ‘Amish Grace’, and it documented the true story of an Amish community who suffered the heartache of a mass shooting in their community. The film documents how they coped with this unimaginable trauma and how they came to forgive the man who wronged their community. Yes they chose to forgive this man. I know. It sounds almost unebelievable. amish The man who committed this most evil of acts was known to the Amish community. He was an outsider, and he was acutely mentally unwell. After much planning,  he went into the little Amish school one morning and shot ten girls. Five of them were killed and five were seriously injured. He then took his own life. This film documented the struggle of the parents in coming to terms with their worst nightmare and how husbands and wives coped differently with their trauma and grief. One of the mothers was understandably very angry whereas her husband was amazingly quick to forgive. To this mother, her husband’s forgiveness of her daughter’s murderer was like a sharp knife in her wounded heart, and for a time this drove a wedge between them. She felt that her husband’s forgiveness meant that the murderer received a pardon. But as the husband explained to his wife, it was his forgiveness that set himself free and not the murderer.

The murderer left his wife with three young children, similar ages to the victims. What impressed me most was the grace and love that the Amish community extended to this devastated widow. Several of the elders visited her on the day of the tragedy and offered their condolences to her loss and told her that they forgave her husband. Two of them had lost children. And if that wasn’t amazing enough, they also attended her husband’s funeral and looked after this widow and her children in the months after the tragedy. One of the mothers was understandably icy, however this widow was a victim too. She had no idea that her husband would do this. In fact, she reported that he was a model father. The widow eventually became a friend of the community, a community that is often very separate and insular. Like many mothers I don’t think I could forgive if this happened and I think that many parents might feel similarly. We hear powerful stories like that of ‘Amish Grace’ and we think – oh I couldn’t do that. But we don’t forgive in our own strength. Perhpas it is God’s grace and only by the grace of God that one is able to forgive the unforgiveable? amish grace banner Many of you will know of Corrie Ten Boom or will have read her books. She is famous for writing several books about her experiences in a WW2 concentration camp. Years after she was liberated from the camp, she came face to face with a prison guard at church one evening. He had given His life to Christ and had become a new creation. He asked her to forgive him. I don’t know if I could. Could you? But with God’s grace she did. And through this she was liberated from the chains of unforgiveness in her soul.

But it’s not just the major trespasses in life that we have to forgive. It’s often the little things. There are many opportunities in life to be hurt and offended. Every day in fact. When you or I say something tactless or unhelpful, if we open our mouths before thinking. It can be those very little things that can be hard to forgive. Even Corrie Ten Boom mentioned this in one of her books. That even though she forgave the Nazi prison guard for unspeakable cruelty, she still found it difficult to forgive others for the little things. And they can mount up. Things that can build up over time in a marriage or other family relationship. But forgiveness is central to being made whole.  If we do not walk in forgiveness, resentment may become lodged in the heart and, once entrenched, will require a work of God’s grace to be removed. Unforgiveness is a cancer to our soul. It eats away at us, robbing us of life and peace. In fact, psychologists realize the power of forgiveness and how important it is for one’s emotional life. We forgive to free ourselves.

How can we forgive when it hurts? It’s not easy but it is a choice and we can choose to forgive. The Bible commands us to forgive. It says: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:14-15). That is tough stuff. Often the things that we need to forgive others for are the very same things that we do ourselves. We reap what we sow. If forgiveness is effected in the heart, we will reap the benefits. We need to keep short accounts with God and with others, and we need to work on being able to ‘let it go’, flowing freely in forgiveness and the freedom that this brings. Because holding onto unforgiveness is exhausting. If you or someone that you know has a frozen heart through unforgiveness, may it be warmed by God’s love. And as Elsa sings in ‘Let it Go’ – ‘the past is in the past.’

And a prayer: Dear Lord, help me to forgive anyone that I need to today. May I have the grace to show them the mercy and compassion that you have shown me. Help me to forgive myself if I need to and help me to walk in the freedom that forgiveness brings. May I be able to let go of any offences as I bring them to the cross. Please remove any resentment from my heart and create in me a soft merficul heart toward you and others. In Jesus name, Amen. forgiveness

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4 Comments on “Let it Go: Flowing Freely in Forgiveness

  1. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately & am planning to ‘blog’ about it too. I would be interested in watching the doco, although I think it would be a difficult watch! It’s true – sometimes you can work through something very difficult & find the strength to forgive & then find it a challenge to forgive small grievances. It can be a daily struggle! Thx for sharing.

  2. Yes ‘Amish Grace’ is a good movie. It doesn’t show any violence and even though it is such a heart wrenching topic, it is very moving and encouraging as it demonstrates the power of forgiveness.

  3. This is such a great post. From my years of recovery from PTSD and major depression I’ve found that forgiveness is the bridge to freedom. I hit a painful wall when I started dealing with my childhood trauma. Long buried anger (the righteous kind) was stuck inside and it had turned to bitterness. Reading scripture about forgiveness felt more wounding than healing. It felt unfair to the wounded child inside me. But by God’s grace, He gently showed me the way through it. The scripture about praying for our enemies and blessing those who curse us was the cornerstone of my healing. I knew forgiving was a matter of obedience and I wrestled with The Lord about it. I cried and opened up the floodgates to my pain. Out of obedience (which was His grace), I started praying for the people who hurt me. I didn’t feel like it. I didn’t want to. But then something miraculous happened in my heart. As I continued praying, the Holy Spirit flowed through me and soon I was interceding for my perpetrators. My heart broke for them and I begged The Lord for His mercy for them. In the end it was HIS forgiveness that allowed me to forgive, not my own. And it was the beginning of emotional and spiritual freedom.

    Blessings to you. Thank you for visiting my blog. I’m glad we are connected. XO

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