Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ESV
Working through your problems can be very emotional. I remember when I was going through my divorce, and honestly years after, I was just mad. I was mad at my ex-husband. I was mad at the lawyers and the court systems. I was mad at friends who no longer came around. I was even mad at God for a while. I wasted a lot of years being mad, years I will never get back. I needed to be mad to survive. It was the only emotion I had that was strong enough to keep me going at the time.
As I have matured in my faith, I am learning to find balance in my emotions. I am learning that it is okay to be mad for a season until you work things out. However, it is not healthy to stay mad. I had to learn to forgive. The first person I needed to forgive was myself. The divorce certainly wasn't all his fault. I was just as much to blame in the ending of our marriage. Then, as I learned to have mercy for myself, I began to pray about forgiving others. Slowly, the chains of hate and anger began to fall away. Holding grudges and resentment inside is a bondage that God does not want us to have. He wants us to experience the freedom of letting all of those negative feelings go from our hearts.
There is an old saying that when you are mad at someone, it’s like carrying around a hot coal in your hand and expecting the person you are mad at to be burned by it. That is exactly how I felt for years. I carried around this mean spirit against my ex-husband. I hated him. What happened to make me change my feelings? I realized that as long as I carried hate in my heart, then my divorce was still hurting me. I realized that I did not want waste another minute of my life being mad or hurt or hate-filled. I realized that I am happy in my life now. I also realized that until I let that hate go, God would not forgive me for those years of darkness. It is such a wonderful feeling to let go of that burden. Now, I can see the good in my ex-husband. He has made a wonderful grandfather to our grandchildren. Do I still remember the hurt of those years? Sure, I do. The difference is, that hurt no longer controls me or my defines my emotions and the guilt I carried for my part in the failed marriage has surfaced so that I could deal with it appropriately.
There will be times to come, I’m sure, when I will feel like I have been wronged and I will feel like I need to be mad for a while. I am so thankful that on this journey of life that I have learned to pray through things to find guidance on how to control that mad instead of letting it control me. Then in turn, God will forgive me. Life is, indeed, too short to waste one moment carrying around a piece of hot coal.