Disclaimer: If you are being abused, forgiveness does not equate to allowing abuse to continue, NEVER! Abuse should not be tolerated at all! If you are being abused, get out and seek help immediately!
I struggling with resentment and unforgiveness. This person is a big part of my life but is often at odds with me and has been verbally quite unkind to me for many many years. It has eaten away at my self esteem and self worth. While things are getting better I have a hard time with resentment and unforgiveness especially when they slip up again? It’s like it reopens the wound. I know we are to forgive constantly, but how do I do this? How do I know I’ve forgiven even when it still hurts.
Now, I want to deal with the self worth aspect of this post. Before I go further I want people to know, I speak from a place of understanding. I know what it’s like to feel worthless from abuse. To this day, it is one of the number one areas that the devil tries to get me tripped up. That said, I also overcome and understand how to but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with it.
The real problem in all of this is what I mentioned in the last post, pride. Now I know, that word is not popular today and seems like the last one you would or should use when someone has been hurt. This is the problem with these types of things. Abuse is very wrong and it produces wrong reactions. Neither is justified but, neither is justified. Just because we have been wronged does not put us in the right of bad response. Our bad response to something bad that has happened will not produce a right outcome. IT WILL ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE!
The wisdom of James 1:19-20 will help us. “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” That word anger can also be understood as the natural disposition of man. Also, the way a person would act when they are stirred up. Now typically that has a bad connotation with it because it is acting against another spiritual principal.
Read these next scriptures carefully and then go back over them again and again. Romans 8:5-8: For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The natural disposition of man is to act according to emotion and the devil knows it! If acting in love separated man from God the devil would be the most loving being that exists! Don’t be trapped by his devices! Emotions are given to us from God to experience life but the devil tries to manipulate them to trap us.
Now let’s address the issue. You define your self worth, no one else. If you have low self worth based on what someone says and does, you have not completely submitted yourself to God. He will never look down on you. He will never call you a failure. He will never be disappointed in you because you missed it. If you will only allow yourself to be defined by God’s love, you will never feel bad about who you are.
If you feel resentment toward a person for how they made you feel it is because you have taken on their imagery as yours. I’m telling you and you have to see this, others do not truly define you, you do!
Listen, I am not saying it doesn’t feel bad when someone belittles us and we certainly shouldn’t do it to anyone else. However, we must learn to trust God. This is the only way out of that sort of depression. I know this first hand because this has been my life. Even today, if I am depressed I have to get my mind back on the Word. If I feel weak I need to rest in His ability. I practice this daily because I have to, or else I will fail.
I have been abused and taken advantage of in relationships, friendships, family and even from spiritual leadership but if any of that is allowed to define me, I cease to be effective for God. If I don’t forgive all of those situations, I cease to be effective for God. I wasted too much of my life in the paralyzing reality of self worthless depression, I will not be defined by that.
My self worth comes from God and it all starts here, Romans 5:8. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” At my worst, at your worst, Jesus went to the cross gladly to purchase the right to you. He bought you, then made you free! We were emancipated by Christ and then He said if you will choose to live for me, you can experience my kind of life! That’s pretty good and a heck of a lot better then being reduced to someone’s warped projection of their own self worthlessness on us, isn’t it?
God thought you were worth the price so live that way! Not high and mighty like you’re better than everyone else, but humble and blessed just the way He taught us. Allow yourself to live the God life defined how He defines you and you will be all you ever need to to be. Even for those who spitefully use you.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.