By Brooklyn Oseguera
Every girl has their favorite purse. Mine is this off-white, over-the-shoulder bag that is the absolute perfect size. It’s not too big, not too small and has tons of zippers to store all of my little things. The only problem is that, over time, I begin to collect more and more little things. If you were to look inside my purse right now, you’d find: loose change, mini-sized body spray, gum, gum wrappers filled with abc gum, church pamphlets, protein bar wrappers and so much more. What you should know about me is that I don’t enjoy cleaning my purses out. Instead, I just let my purses become heavier and fuller until the point where I can barely zip them shut. The purses get so heavy that they actually cause my shoulders to ache when I wear them.
I didn’t write all of this just to complain about my lack of tidiness within my purses. I wanted to paint a picture for you of what it looks like to be unforgiving of those who have hurt us. When we get hurt by someone – offended, manipulated, betrayed, slandered, etc. – there is real pain there. I don’t believe we should ever have to lie to ourselves and say “That does not hurt me” if it actually does. What I do believe, however, is that we must choose to acknowledge the fact that we are hurt, but that we are not going to collect that hurt and store it in our “purse”, a.k.a. our heart. When we collect the moments of hurt – the painful memories we feel we need to save for later – we actually weigh down our own heart. Over time, we may forget what we have placed in there at the bottom corners of the purse where things magically seem to disappear, but you better believe that the weight of the purse has increased.
So what can we do? How can we actively pursue and achieve forgiveness towards those who have hurt us? I want to give you 3 tips to making sure your purse stays light and your heart stays right:
- Trust that God sees everything. I feel that one of the biggest reasons we struggle to forgive others is because of our need for someone to understand our side and how we feel. We feel the need to defend ourselves because we are afraid that no one else will. When we realize the fact that God sees and knows every little detail about everything we face, we don’t have to worry about justice. He will take care of the innocent and defend them. We just have to make sure we let God be the Judge.
- Routinely check our hearts for bitterness. As we talked about before, over time, our “purses” can get very heavy with hurts. Some of these hurts are evident, but some are more concealed. When we pray, we can ask God to reveal to us any bitterness towards someone we have been holding onto. When He brings them to mind, we need to repent of that bitterness and ask Him to help us be more merciful towards others.
- Cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. Recently, as I was reflecting on a painful time in my life, I began to thank God for where He has placed me now. In the process of actively thanking Him for the good things in my life – His favor, provision, protection, etc. – I found my focus shifting off of my pain and onto God’s goodness. When we are thankful, we see our pain through a different lens. Over time, the more we look at that old pain through our new lens, we can begin to forget what it used to look and feel like.
If you’ve felt the weight of that collection of hurts, friend – it’s time to clean out your purse. Forgiveness is a daily choice we have to make to give God our hurts instead of putting them into our purse. If your purse is already heavy, give it to Jesus to help you sort through it all. Jesus is ready to go grab a trash bag and throw everything away that you don’t need. He wants you to be able to walk around freely without the weight. Don’t carry around your collection of hurts any longer – just give them to Jesus. After all, aren’t we thankful that He doesn’t carry around a man-bag full of all of our wrongdoings towards Him? We must empty ours because He first emptied His.
Brooklyn is a lover of Jesus and an advocate of intimacy with Him. Sharing her heart with others is one of her greatest passions. She does this through coffee dates and writing in her blog. She is also currently writing her first book, which she hopes to have out later next year. In addition to these passions, she loves leading worship at the church she and her husband attend in Sacramento, CA. She is married to her high school sweetheart and is enjoying being a newlywed, but is also looking forward to the future God has in store for them. She loves meeting new people and getting to know their hearts, so feel free reach out and say hello sometime!