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The $1200 Gum

On my way back from Spartanburg to Atlanta, I noticed many signs saying, $1,200 fine for throwing trash on the highway.

I was tired, driving back after having a 9-hour drive the day before. I felt lightheaded and hungry but decided not to stop for lunch to beat the Atlanta traffic. I enjoyed the single apple I had in my purse.

I had a gum keeping me company, as I thoughtlessly produced one balloon after another laughing as I burst them into my mouth. Then, this sign reappeared: $1,200 fine for throwing trash on the highway.

I visualized myself opening the window and throwing the gum out the window, just for the excitement. How much would that rush be worth? Would it be worth $1,200?!!!

And if I get fined $1200 whom would I blame? Myself for throwing the gum, or the city of Atlanta for fining me?

My mind works like woolen yarn, everything is interconnected, and it drives my husband crazy.

This thought led me to think of all those who suffer the consequences of unforgiveness: anxiety, sleepless nights, gastric ulcers, high blood pressure and migraines only to name a few.

Does the person who hurt me have a clue what I am suffering? No? Is the other person paying my medical bills (which might far exceed $1,200)? No.

So why am I holding on to unforgiveness?

Forgiveness is not easy, it does not mean that what happened to you was ok. Forgiveness does not mean that you should condone what happened to you in any way. Forgiveness does not mean that that person will go unpunished for what he did if what he did was illegal.

Forgiveness is mainly for your own good, for your own health. Forgiveness prevents that person who hurt you from controlling your present and your future.

I remember a time when I had unforgiveness towards a couple who hurt us deeply, badmouthing us with lies and false accusations. I suffered from migraines. My husband suffered from unexplained allergies.

Yet, at one point we told the Lord that we cannot forgive, and – to put it bluntly- we don't want to forgive.

Yet, we realized that we were the only ones suffering: the other party had no clue.

We told the Lord that He is asking us to do something impossible. “Yes.” The Lord answered. “I AM asking you to do something that only I can do in you. Ask me to pour forgiveness on you so you can forgive this couple who hurt you.” And we did. Because we were willing, God gave us the grace to forgive those people.

So I want to share with you today 3 reasons why we need to forgive and 3 steps to forgive.

I am quoting here one of the best ever programs for recovery: Celebrate Recovery.

Three reasons why we need to forgive:

  1. God has forgiven me.

Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13

You will never have to forgive anybody else more than God has already forgiven you.

  1. Resentment doesn’t work.

To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do. Job 5:2

Some people stay healthy until the day they die…Others have no happiness at all; they live and die with bitter hearts. Job 21:23-25

  1. a) Hanging onto anger, bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness only hurts you. You need to forgive for your own good.

Holding on to resentment is unreasonable.

  1. b) Holding on to resentment is unhelpful.

  2. c) Resentment is unhealthy.

  1. I will need forgiveness in the future.

When you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. Mark 11:25

You need to forgive other people because you’re going to need God’s forgiveness in the future and you don’t want to burn the bridge that you’ve got to walk across.

Three Steps of Forgiveness:

  1. I reveal my hurt.

You can’t get over the hurt until you admit the pain.

You can repress your hurts and pretend they do not exist.

You can ignore them and try pushing them out of the way.

You can suppress them.

You can admit them.

Why is it that we do not want to admit that the people we love caused us pain? Perhaps it’s because we have the misconception that you cannot love somebody and be angry with them at the same time. The truth is, you can.

  1. I release the offender.

Don’t wait for them to ask for forgiveness, because they might never ask. Remember, you are doing this for your sake, not for theirs.

“How often should I forgive someone who sins against me?”... “Not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” Matthew 18:21-22

You’ll know you have released them when you can think about them and it doesn’t hurt anymore…when you can pray for God’s blessing on their life. This may take years, depending on how deep the hurt is. Forgiving them does not mean you allow them to keep hurting you. It doesn’t mean going back into an abusive or dangerous relationship. But it does mean that you must release those who have hurt you so you can be healed.

  1. I replace my hurt with God’s peace.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Colossians 3:15

When you let go of your hurt, you make room for God’s peace.

We need to relax and let God settle the score.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. ROMANS 12:17-19

This doesn’t mean you are to be a people pleaser. It means you must do what is honorable, right, honest, and above criticism.

Relationships can tear your heart into pieces. But God can take the pieces and glue them back together and cover your heart with His peace.

So are you going to keep blaming God, blaming circumstances and blaming other people for where you are today or will you allow God to pick up the mess and make something beautiful out of it? Then like me, you will become a beautiful mess.

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Not Guilty is on a mission to abolish sexual abuse, bullying and trauma.


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