You should forgive your offenders; here’s why…

Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the (offense) that so easily trips us up. Then we will be able to run life’s marathon racewith passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us. Heb 12:1

In the Spring, Summer and Fall Months, when the temperature is 50 Degrees Fahrenheit and above, I exercise outdoors at a track field.

I have several “walking buddies” as I call them. We see each other all the time on the track and if one of us is absent for more than a day, we check up on them to ensure all is well.  They also serve as my motivation partners unknown to them. Some of them are old enough to be my grandmother and they are “always” on the track.

We also have a few walking buddies that walk with ankle and wrist weights. They move at a much slower pace than the rest of us. They usually finish their work out long after the rest of us.

Truth is going around the track over and over can get very boring very quickly. So, I usually get on there, move very fast so I can get my 1 hour in and get off.

I share this story because just as my weight bearing walking buddies move at a much slower pace than the rest of us, for us to soar (excel) in life, we must let go of encumbering weights. Unforgiveness: being one of those weights. Why? those weights steal from us the passion and determination required to run life’s race well and as a result they must go.

What has UNFORGIVENESS got to do with living an excellent life you may ask? Well everything. A person of excellence should always strive for wholeness on the inside. This is particularly important, because what’s on the inside always shows up on the outside, especially in those unguarded moments.

Above everything else, guard your heart. Everything you do comes from it. Pro 4:23 NIRV.

Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life. Pro 4:23 Tpt.

I recently heard a message on Forgiveness by Paul Osteen MD. It really was a great message. You should listen to it also. I felt a deep urge to take notes, and I did. I listened to the message in its entirety 3 times and took copious notes.

Choosing to live in unforgiveness is very costly. It affects our emotions and health negatively in many ways. A few of the of toxic effects of unforgiveness are:

1 – Bitterness

2- Anxiety

3 – Depression

4 – Patterns of Anger

5 – Not enjoying life at all

Dr. Osteen in his message highlighted something very profound and true:

“many times, we become what we don’t forgive” Paul Osteen

It’s not coincidental that a son that chooses not to forgive an alcoholic father ends up becoming an alcoholic himself  later in life”

‘unforgiveness fuels generational curses” Paul Osteen

Forgiveness breaks the strong hold of negative generational patterns and opens the door for generational blessings – Yinka Adegbenle

I am not undermining hurts and wrongs done to us in anyway. Even as an adult when I remember some of the hurtful things that have been said or done to me, I still cringe. However, I know two wrongs do not make a right and this life is not a rehearsal, I refuse to give the person(s) who hurt me power over my today and my future. Therefore, I chose to forgive them, and I will continue to choose forgiveness over and over again.

I once heard it said that when we choose not to forgive, we drag the offender everywhere with us. It is as though they are chained to us.  We drag them everywhere in our thoughts, mind and actions.  We let them rob us of peace, joy, good health, a full and excellent life.

I watched an interview/documentary recently where one of the mothers who lost her 6-year-old son to the Sandie Hook Elementary School Massacre in 2012, chose to show compassion and forgive Adam Lanza (the shooter). This documentary was very difficult to watch.

Oh, I cried hard while watching it. I went through a range of emotions ranging from anger to helplessness. I have 3 children, and one of them is a ruddy 4 year old boy in PreK. I honestly cannot begin to imagine what it most feel like to lose a child under such tragic circumstances.

This Sandy Hook Mom who lost her precious son under such tragic circumstances decided to forgive the shooter why? because she felt she owed it to her deceased son to live the rest of her life in peace. She chose to honor the legacy of her deceased son by releasing the offender.

There was one thing that she said which I would never forget: “the shooter was not born a mass shooter. Something must have gone terribly wrong in his child hood that made him turn out that way and made him decide to take 21 innocent lives on that fateful day in December”. She went on to say “he must have been in a lot of pain and hurt for a long time to commit such a heinous crime”

This mother misses her son terribly like any mother would. She is also still dealing with the pain and grieve of losing a young child suddenly. But you could tell from watching the documentary that she was not burdened and weighed down by unforgiveness and was making the most of life after the death of her son.

This mother chose forgiveness not because it made what the killer did right, but because she wanted to be free. She is indeed free, and she is honoring the legacy of her late son the best way she knows how.

6 Steps to choosing forgiveness.

As a Christian, I best understand and process the complex issue of forgiveness from the perspective of my faith and what the bible teaches on forgiveness. I don’t know what faith you subscribe to. But I implore you to read till the end to see what the bible teaches on forgiveness and it could set you free from the pain and other negative manifestations of living in unforgiveness.

1.       As a Christian and child of God, I know that I have been forgiven much. When I chose to make Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior of my life 18 years ago, the slate of All of my Past, Present and Future Sins was wiped clean. The price God paid for my sins was costly. It involved the sacrifice of his only beloved son – Jesus  –  John 3:16  As a result, because I have been forgiven much, I pay it forward by forgiving those that hurt and offend me. Infact, God clearly states that if we do not forgive when we have been hurt or offended, we should not possibly expect him to forgive us.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matt. 6:14

2.      When I choose to forgive, I’m relinquishing my choice to pay the offender back to a higher wiser power – God. By faith in him, I choose to let him deal with the situation as he sees best. By faith I know the decisions he makes will be better than whatever payback plan I had or could have executed by 100%

3.      This third point was a hard one for me to wrap my head around, it took some time but I got it eventually.

Please understand that the person who has wronged you immensely is also a valuable child of God just as much as you are. Their actions may say otherwise, but they are equally a person created by God and loved by Him, just like He loves you.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. St Augustine

It does not mean they get a free pass for the wrongs they have done. It just simply means God is love and is incapable of hate and loves them likes he loves you and I.

4.      Bless them and pray for them. I know! I know! it makes absolutely no sense. After the evil they have done. Prayer changes us, not them. When we have been wronged, we are hurt, vengeful and want the person who wronged us to suffer 10X more than we have. Our heart becomes hard as a result.

Praying for the offender changes us by softening our heart and helping us to release the offense.

5.      You can’t keep rehearsing the hurt that that was done to you and claim you have forgiven them at the same time. You will get countless opportunities to narrate what was done to you usually to the detriment of the offender. Giving in to that just shows you haven’t forgiven the offender. This is not asking you to forget but rehashing what happened every minute and every second will not help matters in any way. It will make you more bitter and hurt.

6.     Your children, spouse and those closest to you are watching how you model forgiveness. Choose to be a great example. You just will never know who is watching your example of forgiveness.

A lady and I were conversing a few weeks back. She narrated how while taking a shower sometime last year, she noticed a rather large lump in the breast area. It was large enough for her to go get it properly accessed at her primary physician’s office. Her Dr. did not think anything of it, but she insisted on further tests. The additional tests revealed she had Stage 4 Lymphoma!

Her next sentence left me speechless….  “You know Yinka, I looked perfectly fine on the outside.” This cancer had already done so much damage on the inside without me even realizing it. If not for the lump I found on my breast, I could have died from that cancer because again I was perfectly okay on the outside”

That story has stayed with me since, and I just could not help comparing her story to the effects of unforgiveness in our lives if not checked. Like cancer, it will creep into other otherwise healthy areas of our lives and cause a lot of damage.

I implore you to choose to forgive today. Release the offender. It does not make what they have done right, but it sets you FREE to soar and have a flourishing life and future.

If you are ready to let go of the heavy burden of unforgiveness, give this exercise a try. I found a great deal of release from it .

Here is a quick exercise on forgiveness and release your offenders. It WORKS! I have used it myself.

  1. Get a plain sheet of paper
  2. Ask God to help you bring to mind the names of all of your offenders.
  3. Write all of their names on the sheet of paper.
  4. Next say each name out loud followed by I forgive you for doing xyz to me and I completely release you.
  5. Do this for every name on the list.
  6. Once done, burn the list. Or shred it. I prefer to burn
  7. That’s it, you are now free from the weight of unforgiveness

We cannot change the past, but we have control over our future and the choices we make. My desire is for you to EXCEL without any inhibitions or unnecessary weight holding you back . Choose to let go of the weight of unforgiveness.

Do not let unforgiveness rob you of a life of excellence life anymore. Choose to forgive today.