Joy has had a love relationship with Jesus since she was 14, and has taught Christian religious classes to various ages since she was 16.
You Are Responsible For Your Own Attitude
Like most people, I struggled for years with how to not hate others. When I was in Junior High, I wanted to kill my brother. I grew to hate my father. I married at 19, and after seven years, grew to hate my husband. And I did all this knowing full well that to hate is to kill someone's soul. So my list of hatreds and of soul-murders grew.
When I caught myself planning how to do my husband in for real, I decided it was time to learn to forgive from the heart. I had gotten good at faking it. I could talk the talk, and put on a plastic smile, trying to convince myself and everyone else that I had it together, and could do just fine at loving people. I could even take my husband to bed right on the heels of wishing for his demise. That was forgiveness, wasn't it?
But no, it wasn't. And it was time I figured out what forgiveness meant, and how to accomplish it.
Well, I learned. And ever since then, I've been craving to pass on the process to you.
How Does the Creator Respond to a "Stumble"?
The Plan for Teaching You How to Forgive
I will outline how to do this in three very practical steps. Virtually anybody can do this. There's just one catch. Your heart has to be full of light. Jesus Christ is Light, as is His Father. He can make your heart full of light, and wants to. Then, in His power, you can forgive anything or anyone. Anyone. For anything. You'll see. You can leave behind the haunts of bad feelings left by what people have done to you...including yourself. Even if the person you're mad at is God, this still works.
So, before we begin on the forgiveness process, here's a crash course in how to cooperate with God in undarkening your heart. In case you don't need this part, and you know for sure that you and Jesus are friends, just skip to the section labeled "The Forgiveness Process Part 1."
Would You Like to Let the One Who Hurt You Stop Telling You How to Think? Then Forgive Them.
Friends with Jesus
I will not preach at you. You've probably had enough of that. You already know that you need to forgive, or you wouldn't be reading this. You also know you can't do it on your own, because you've tried, and, while you may have made the decision to forgive, chances are good that you haven't gotten rid of the nasty feelings that came with being wronged.
So now what? Let Jesus take a peek at your heart. It's alright; He already knows what's in there. He designed you, created you, and has been looking out for you ever since. Maybe it doesn't feel like this is true, but we're not here to argue that. Perhaps we'll talk about that another time. If you're determined to be angry, I can't stop you. Only you can decide if you want innapropriate anger to cease, and take actions to ensure that happens.
I'll tell you why Jesus wants to have this look at your heart. It's so that He can love on you. When your heart is black and slimy, you can't properly feel His goodness toward you. You're stuck, and likely to be too concerned with your own problems to know that He's trying to communicate with you, or that He cares about what's happening in your life. What He wants is to heal your heart. But He can't do that if you play keep-away with Him. So let Him have a look, and hold your heart for a moment.
How? Just tell Him what you want. You could say, "Jesus, I want you to see and hold my heart." You may or may not feel anything at first. That's OK. The decision is what's important right now; the feelings will eventually come. This decision to be receptive to the Creator may be the hardest you've ever made. There's a good reason for that.
Real Freedom Means Being a Warrior
Your soul has an enemy, and this enemy will do anything he can to keep you away from your Creator. If you are determined to get close to Him in spite of this enemy's efforts to divert you, then he will do his best to help you form only distorted, fearful pictures of your Creator. This has been his self-appointed job, since before the Garden of Eden, where he deceived Eve. Yes, this enemy has a name, and is commonly known as the Devil, or Satan. These are really titles, not names, and refer to this enemy's activities in our lives. Satan, which means "Accuser", carries the idea of a prosecuting attorney, who, in this case, accuses God's children before Him, and seeks to create so much confusion and fear in us that we can't function correctly. He loves to lock up our minds and mire us down with feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and horror. The good news is that Jesus has been our defending attorney ever since His work on the cross, where He already won His case. The word "devil" means "adversary", as he is both our adversary and Jesus'. In other words, he fights against anything good, pure, righteous, holy, and peace-loving. He is enraged that Jesus already won His case when He, through His Father's power, conquered death and rose from the grave, as a kind of gate and pattern for humans to receive eternal life. The enemy knows he can't win, but he's stubborn, and is trying to take as many down with him as possible, just to spite the Creator. Unless you have chosen to give your heart over to Jesus, you are among those who are going down, as that is the default choice. Jesus said, Either you are for Him or you are against Him (Matthew 12:30). You already can feel the enemy working in your life, or you would have less fear, and a way to deal with the guilt, doubt, and confusion that pile up inside you. So let's see what Jesus wants to do with your heart.
What About Confession?
Don't we have to confess our sins in order to be forgiven? Isn't that what the Bible says? (I John 1:9.) Well, if this verse meant we have to make a list and check it twice, then I'd be in trouble and so would you. Do you know or remember all of your sins? Give me a ring if you do, because I want to know what memory course you're using. So if the verse doesn't mean that God wants an itemized account of every stupid thing you've ever done, what does it mean? It means you need to recognize that you have no power to redeem and cleanse your own soul...or body...or spirit. The good news is that Jesus is not only capable, but willing to do these things for you. That's why He left His home with the Father, to come live in the slums and hang out with prostitutes and dock workers. And get lynched. And rise again, totally undefeated. Yeah, that's love.
So let's get this straight. Jesus isn't on the edge of His seat, waiting to put you down. He's waiting to lift you up. But in order to do that, He needs your permission. Yeah, God needs your permission. That's because He respects you. He created you with a mind of your own, and loves you so much that He refuses to take away your freedom of choice. You have the power to choose Him, or reject Him and His claims. And in order to choose Him (and His claims), you must acknowledge that He is God and you are not. Pretty simple, huh? But not easy. Never easy.
Don't stall here. Go ahead and make that choice to respect the Creator back, which means receiving His claims - that He is who He says He is, and that He did what He says He did. He's the Living God, He's the Messiah, He's the Creator, and He is light, love, and life. Every good and perfect thing started in Him (including you). Every distorted, ugly, and dark thing is something He made, twisted out of shape by the enemy of your soul and His. This includes your soul, made imperfect through sin. Nothing imperfect or dark can enter His holy presence, because He is a consuming fire. He will one day put all things to rights, but is allowing everyone time to make their choices first. At any time in our lives here, we have the ability to call on His Name and accept His invitation to become holy and perfect through His work in the person of Jesus Christ. Those are His claims, in a nutshell.
Is Jesus Holding Your Heart?
If the darkness seems to be choking you, try saying, "Jesus is my Creator, and I choose Him." This won't necessarily make everything all better, but it will send a vivid message to the enemy that you are not fooling around, and you are prepared to do battle and win. If this seems like too much trouble, ask yourself why the enemy wants your soul so much? Why is he willing to go to so much trouble to keep it? Ask yourself, also, why Jesus died for the sake of your soul? He thought it was important, too. So struggle if you have to, and win through.