Growing up with an overprotective abusive mother and a distant, abusive father affected the way I made decisions. I was only allowed to make a decision as long as they agreed if they disagreed, they would disown me until I changed my mind again. As I grew older, I started fighting back, refusing to change my mind, and in some weird way, they started respecting me for it. When you are so accustomed to always having negative feedback on what you decide, it affects you even into adulthood. Also, after I moved out on my own about 30 years ago now, I can remember how I struggled to make decisions and stick with them. As the years went by, I got more and more accustomed to living on my own, and my parent’s negative voices in my head were finally gone.
I became a Christian in 2001, and one of the first things I learned was the importance of forgiveness. If I wanted to live a healthy, happy life, being forgiven by God, I had to forgive my parents. And yes, the Bible does say, “forgive us our sins as we forgive our debtors,” but right now, there are about 40 000 + different opinions on what it means to “forgive our debtors.”
How do you forgive someone who was supposed to give you direction, security in life, but instead, they made you doubt everything you did?
As the years went by, my parents’ negative voices in my head were finally gone. Instead, they were replaced by something more sinister, anticipating the worse from the people I loved and from God. Without being aware of it, I suddenly found myself reacting out of my old wounds instead of responding to what was going on in my life right there and then. Unconsciously I found myself anticipating my parents’ reactions from everyone around me, even God. I knew intellectually they would not respond the way my parents did, but emotionally I still responded as if I was still dealing with my parents. When someone has emotionally wounded you, you trusted your emotional wounds will always override your intellect.
The more I became aware of this, I started looking for a healing, I knew I needed healing, but I did not how to go about being healed. Everyone around me was telling me, “forgive your parents, and you will be healed,” but nobody was able to tell me how to forgive. So instead of listening to what other people’s opinions about forgiveness, I decided to listen to the Bible instead.
In the Bible (1.John 1:9), it says forgiveness from Yehovah can only happen when and if we repent from what we have done. The Bible is evident that if we want Yehovah (God has a name, and it is Yehovah) to forgive us, it is not enough to say “I am sorry” or to “ask Jesus into your heart.” You have to repent first, and repentance is always something you do. You decide to stop doing what you have been doing and start doing what you should be doing. When the Bible defines sin as breaking the law of Moses (the Torah), it is evident if we want to be forgiven for our sins, we have to stop breaking the Law of Moses and start obeying it.
The Bible also says, “forgive us our sins as we forgive our debtors,” so we see there is a connection here between being forgiven and being able to forgive. We can only forgive as we are forgiven, if we are not forgiven by Yehovah first, we have no ability in us to forgive others.
For years I had lived as mainstream Christian, believing I was forgiven when I “asked Jesus into my heart.” I thought the right thing to do was to live with Jesus as the object of my faith, but the more I did, the harder it got to forgive. I did all the right things, I prayed, I confessed my sins, I read my Bible and wanted to forgive, but I could not do it. Why? Because I was still living in sin, not having repented yet.
It was not until I came to Torah I truly repented from living a lawless life in disobedience to the law of Moses repenting back to obeying the Torah. I started doing things like keeping Shabbat and eating only clean foods, but most important of all, I stopped worshiping Idols.
Before I proceed, let me emphasize one thing: the divinity of Jesus is never in question. He is and will always be the Son of God, God Himself existing from eternity; He has no beginning and no end. (John 1, 8:58). At the same time, we can not ignore what He says in the Gospels. He tells us His Father is greater than He, and He came to bring us back to the Father, not to Himself. And we can not ignore how the ten commandments say, “I am Yehovah your God who brought you out of Egypt, you shall have no other gods before Me.”
If we decide not to ignore what the Bible says, one thing becomes apparent, the worship of Yeshua is idolatry. But let me again repeat myself, His divinity is not in question. He has no beginning, He has no end, He is the Son of God who died for our sins, but we can not ignore the fact that He never told anyone to worship Him.
If we take the Bible seriously, we can not ignore that sin is breaking the Torah. The Torah says we are only to worship Yehovah, so worship of anyone other than Yehovah becomes a sin. If Yeshua is the sinless lamb of God, He could never have told anyone to worship Him or approved of worship of Himself because then He would no longer be sinless.
So if we repent back to Torah obedience, we can not change the fact that we can only worship Yehovah. And this is what I did when I repented; I started worshiping My Father, whose name is Yehovah. I started praying to Yehovah and worshiping the one who loves me so much that He gave me His Son Yeshua. The more I did this, the more Yeshua became alive in my life, and the more I fell in love with Yeshua. But most important of all, I had truly repented, and I was truly forgiven.
Now Yehovah started working in me, and suddenly one day, I was healed of every wound from the past. Suddenly I knew that I knew those negative anticipations had nothing to do with the people around me today and nothing to do with Yehovah. They were old wounds from the past trying to resurface in my life, but now as I was forgiven, I had the power to forgive my parents, honestly. When I forgave my parents, those wounds got healed, but I was not able to forgive until I had been forgiven.
You might ask, so how do I forgive?
The Bible says we are forgiven by Yehovah when we repent, so true Biblical forgiveness can only come through repentance. Sometimes those who have hurt us refuse to repent, or perhaps they might be dead and unable to repent. So how do you forgive someone when they refuse to repent or cant repent?
It all has to start with you being forgiven by Yehovah first, nobody can forgive unless they first have been forgiven. The Bible says this in the Lord’s prayer, and even secular psychologists would agree to this; if you are not forgiven, you can not forgive. The only way for you to be truly forgiven by Yehovah is through repentance. You go from living a lawless life, disobeying the law of Moses (the Torah), and you start obeying it. When you begin following the Law of Moses, you will soon see how it calls for sacrifice and atonement for all the times you disobeyed in the past. This is where the cross comes in and your faith in Yeshua, who died for your sins. When you believe He died for you, and you obey the law of Moses, the Bible says you are forgiven.
My parents never repented of what they had done to me. My father passed away, claiming he was the perfect father and that I was delusional and ungrateful. Even though they did chose not to repent, I was able to forgive them. How is that possible?
It would never have been possible unless I first had seen the need to be forgiven for my sins. Because I know I have sinned and needed forgiveness, I know I am no different from my parents. I was a sinner in need of forgiveness; they are sinners in need of forgiveness. What they did to me was a sin and very wrong, but I have no authority to demand repentance. Because Yehovah forgives me, I must release them to Him by giving what they did to me to Yehovah. Then I am truly able to forgive them because I know I can trust Yehovah to take it from me, so I dont have to carry the burden and the emotional memories anymore.
This is what forgiveness is; we choose to forgive by giving all the hurt, all the wounds, all the memories to Yehovah. He takes them and heals us of them, but this can only be done if we are forgiven for our sins first through repentance.
As of today, I have no contact with my mother, who is still living, and many people would argue I have not truly forgiven them because if I had, I would have re-established contact with her. Even though I have no authority to demand repentance, I know Yehovah does not forgive her until she repents. It would be very unwise and foolish of me to establish contact with someone who is still a sinner and even very much capable of hurting me emotionally.
So what is forgiveness? Forgiveness is twofold; first, we have to be forgiven by Yehovah, something that can only happen when we repent of our sins and start obeying the Torah again. Second, we have to choose to give the sins other people did to us to Yehovah, give Him all the wounds, emotions, and hurts. If we do, He promises in Deut 28 to heal us and give us Shalom instead, but He only promises to do so for those who have been forgiven by Him. Then we will have Shalom and be able to pray for and love those who have hurt us.
What forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is dependent on repentance; if someone sins against us but dont repent, they are not forgiven by Yehovah. If they are not forgiven, they are still very much capable of inflicting more damage in our lives. Repentance is between them and Yehovah; we are not in authority to demand repentance. But as long as we see that they have not yet repented, we can not and should not trust them. So forgiveness is not the same as trust and not the same as opening yourself up to be hurt again.
So choose today to forgive by first being forgiven by Yehovah.