How Forgiveness Cleans The Toxic Dumping Ground Of The Heart

How Forgiveness Cleans The Toxic Dumping Ground In The Heart

Forgiveness cleanses the toxic places in our hearts. Those dumping grounds where we hold onto the resentments and hurts. 

“We throw all of the garbage we can’t burn or compost, like oil or old lead paint, over the hill in the back” she said to me.

“But…then you can’t use that land, anymore, right?” I asked.

“Well, no, but we don’t use that area for anything. We are allowed to dump there, it’s our land.”

An elderly farmer woman explained to me how she and her husband got by without garbage pick up service over the many decades of farming several hundred acres. Instead of making trips to the dump or a recycling site to get rid of potentially toxic garbage, they had a place on their land where all those items went.

They piled them high and planned to never use that piece of property.

What surprised and bothered me was that they wouldn’t be using the land that much longer because they were in their late seventies, but the groundwater and land area, spoiled from lead paint and motor oil, would be contaminated long after they were gone.

This lasting mess they made didn’t seem to concern them in any way.

Should we be surprised at bad outcomes when we’ve buried poison?

It reminds me of what happens when we keep something unforgiven in our hearts.

The toxicity of unforgiveness

When someone has hurt us, we often want to hang on to some of the negative feelings and keeping some kind of memory in place somewhere in our heart.

We want to remember the significance of that pain. We don’t want to be hurt again and so keeping a place for the garbage they did to us “onsite” helps us feel like our pain matters and what they did can’t be overlooked as though it didn’t happen or wasn’t real.

The problem with this common tactic is that it keeps something toxic nearby and makes an area of us “unfit for use” for better things.

It has a way of poisoning us, clouding our vision, and keeping us stuck in past hurts.

God wants to take all the garbage of these hurts away or renew it, completely.

God wants to restore, redeem, and recycle in every way, so we can be free of what causes us anguish. Then, we can also be better off to help those who are suffering similarly.

And just like a toxic landfill, when the land of our hearts has toxic places it will poison others who come in contact with it too. This may have a lasting legacy after we are gone.

When it comes to the pile of trash we’ve tried to manage ourselves, on our own and on our own land within, we need Divine Grace.

Forgiveness pulls up stakes

We have to “pull up stakes” and not lay claim to that toxic piece of property within any longer.

Releasing that whole area to God to clean up and heal is really the only way to freedom and greater peace.

  • Do you have places of old pain and hurt in your heart?
  • Do you wish for freedom from the toxic places within that keep coming to mind and bothering you?
  • Does the past continue to poison the present?

You can turn those places over to the loving God who wants to make it well with your Soul.

A Forgiveness Prayer

Here is a prayer that might help ready your heart for transformation and healing in those ways.

You know that I’ve had times of great hurt in my life.

I’ve kept some of those hurt places to myself and they have become damaging to me.

I know that like keeping contaminated garbage on my land will poison the land for future harvests and poison the springs of water beneath, the places where I don’t allow your loving grace to come in and heal me will only poison my growth, my relationships, and my future.

Will you take over those spots?

I give them up to you now.

Help me remember that it is by your strength through me that I can forgive and it is you who cleans up messes like these by your immense Grace.

Thank you for loving me always and keeping me in your embrace.

Thank you for noticing my pain, caring about it, and renewing my strength.

You give me everything I need to pull up stakes on this poisoned land within and turn it over to you completely.

Be near to me in this time, dear God. Thank you.


Quotes to consider

  • We cannot embrace God’s forgiveness if we are so busy clinging to past wounds and nursing old grudges. T. D. Jakes
  • Without forgiveness, there’s no future. Desmond Tutu
  • To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. Lewis B. Smedes

Questions to answer 

  1. Do you have places of old pain and hurt in your heart?
  2. Do you wish for freedom from the toxic places within that keep coming to mind and bothering you?
  3. Does the past keep poisoning the present?

Lisa Delay lisa delay

Lisa DeLay describes herself as a broadcaster, creator, writer, teacher, graphic designer, mother, wife, friend, techie/nerd. Her educational background is in visual art and graphic design and she has a graduate degree in Spiritual Formation. Lisa teaches Masters students at Gratz College and has written a handful of books (you can find on Each Wednesday, she releases a new podcast episode for her program called Spark My Muse Follow her on Twitter @lisadelay and say “hello”.

You may also like to read When Anxiety is a Speedy Stream – Lisa DeLay

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