What happens when you forgive someone?
For Mark Sowersby, forgiveness brings freedom.
Mark is a Pentecostal preacher and shares a powerful testimony of forgiveness in this week’s episode. As a child, he was abused sexually. But freedom did not come when the abuse stopped after seven years.
It took decades for Mark to find true freedom and it only came as he was able to forgive his abusers.
Forgiveness is a journey
At one point Mark thought he could just forgive his abusers and it would all be over. But he has realized that forgiveness is a journey.
All too often, Christians want to forgive someone because they know they’re supposed to. They say the words, but don’t really deal with the deep levels of forgiveness required.
We have to be willing to take this journey and trust in God’s help along the way.
We can’t forgive someone all by ourselves. It’s only with God’s love and forgiveness that we can forgive others.
Causes of forgiveness
Two things propelled Mark on this journey of forgiveness:
- He was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He had hit rock bottom.
- His mother passed on, which stirred a lot of emotions and feelings and caused a lot of self-reflection and praying. It caused him to turn to Christ.
Mark says there are a lot of people who are hurting because of what has been done to them and they haven’t been able to forgive. They don’t want to go through the process because they think it’s too hard or they don’t want to forgive.
Important points about forgiveness
Here are some of the points Mark makes about forgiveness
- Don’t make excuses for going on the journey of forgiveness
- It’s important to find individuals and communities of people who you feel safe with that you can talk to about your feelings
- Forgiveness needs to start in your prayer closet. You have to be honest with God. Ask God where to start, who to talk to
- To get out of the victim mentality we need to be sober about what happened to us. You can’t pretend those things didn’t happen. For Mark, God’s Word, God’s love, God’s grace, God’s voice, became louder than the voices from the past.
- Don’t use your victimhood as a bubble to live in to protect you from having to deal with facing uncomfortable issues of the past
- Letting go of identifying as a victim can be scary but it forces you to accept personal responsibility for your own actions.
- When you forgive someone, they no longer have any power over you. It’s not allowing them to have real estate in your mind any more. That’s where the freedom comes.
- True forgiveness begins with getting to know God better. It’s about surrendering to God
- You can’t bury the hurt feelings. They have to come to the surface to be healed.
Don’t let someone have power over you
Mark shared that he was abused for seven years, but his abuser owned real estate in his mind, and had a much longer effect on him.
When he finally found forgiveness for his abuser, he kicked out this influence in his mind and reclaimed the mental real estate the abuser had occupied long after the actual abuse had ceased.
When you forgive someone, they no longer have any power over you. It’s not allowing them to have real estate in your mind any more. That’s where the freedom comes.
You don’t have to wait until someone apologizes.
Mark Sowersby quote:
It’s always a blessing to be on the journey of forgiveness and to be an over-comer in Christ.
It doesn’t matter if the person is here or what the response is from the other person. What I do is trust the Lord to help me forgive, regardless of what the other person is doing. I can no longer let the other person’s actions dictate who I am.
So, by forgiving in Christ, forgiving in hope, forgiving by faith, I’m no longer letting the other person dictate how I respond. I am set free, and strong, and made new in Christ.
So I am able to forgive regardless of whether the other person takes responsibility, owns up, or is even here today.
My prayer: “Lord, they will no longer keep me shackled to their abuse and they’ll no longer take up time in my soul any more. Because You are my all-in-all, You are my Rock and my firm foundation.”
Remember, forgiveness is a journey
Don’t give up. Let God minister to you on the journey. Just keep going. Then the journey toward healthy thinking becomes more familiar than broken, victimhood thinking.
You can’t forgive on your own. You can only do it with God’s love and forgiveness. You have to turn to God and let His ways become your ways.
Forgiveness is not an action of the human mind or human heart. It can only come through God’s love and forgiveness.
Mark’s website: ForgivingtheNightmare.com
Mark’s Facebook page: Forgiving the Nightmare
Book to be released late fall.
Episode #18 Forgiving 70 x 7: How I Forgave My 8th Grade Gym Teacher
James Early is a Bible teacher, speaker, and podcaster and conducts Bible workshops online and in person. His focus is on getting back to the original Christianity of Jesus by embracing the mindset of Christ in daily life. Contact him here.
Scriptural references in this episode:
Mark 9:21 KJV
21 For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.
Romans 10:13 NIV
13 “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Matthew 8:22 NIV
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Lamentations 3:22, 23 ESV
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[fn] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Exodus 16:3 KJV
3 And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Genesis 32:24-28 NIV
24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.
26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.
28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Mark 14:29, 30 NIV
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Matthew 6:33 ESV
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Malachi 3:10 ESV
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
Luke 9:23 ESV
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Deuteronomy 4:29 ESV
29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.