Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crisis of Forgiveness

I'm always finding myself drawn to forgiveness topics.  Does that mean that I have something in my life that needs forgiveness or do I just find forgiveness really important?

I think it's probably both.

A lot of times I find it hard to truly understand forgiveness.  Just when I think I've forgiven someone I find out that I really haven't.

So why is it so hard to really forgive someone?

Well, first of all I believe that forgiveness comes in two steps.  The first is choosing to forgive and the second is acting on that decision.  I think the first step is the easiest for me and I often find it much harder to act on my decision to forgive.

Usually it frustrates me when I choose to forgive someone and then I find out that I actually haven't forgiven them.

(Let me clarify something real quick.  When I say that I find out that I haven't actually forgiven someone I don't mean that someone told me that I haven't or whatever.  Basically, I've just realized that I haven't forgiven them because I still have bitterness or I still bring up the situation or whatever)

Anyway, I've been processing what forgiveness really means so I've been reading articles on the topic.  here's one thing that got me thinking...

1. I won’t bring the offense up to the person, except for his benefit;
2. I won’t bring the offense up to others; and (hardest of all)
3. I won’t bring the offense up to myself. I will not go over it and think about it and dwell upon it.

At first when I read these I thought to myself, "what?"  But I think after thinking about them, I understand it better.  If I've really forgiven the person then why would I even want to bring the offense up to them?  If I brought the offense up to them it would just be like I wanted to get back at them or I wanted them to pay for what they have done.  While that could be my first instinct, it's not what forgiveness entails.  Forgiveness means to free someone from obligation of a payment or a debt.  Pretty much I won't expect them to repay me for what they did.

When I think of not bringing the offense up to others, I just get stuck.  It's part of my story so how does that work?  I think there are ways of telling your story without actually bringing up the offense.  It's difficult, but I think that's just part of the healing and forgiveness process.

Bringing it up to myself goes along the lines of bringing it up to others.  I mean, the offense happened to me so how do I not bring it up to myself especially when something triggers the thought?  

I think it's possible for the offense to be brought up but it's important to have dealt with it and just let it go.  If you let it come to your mind and dwell on it then chances are you really haven't forgiven that offense.

Sometimes the process of forgiveness takes a long time.  And sometimes you have to repeat the steps.  Sometimes all it takes is writing a letter, whether you give it to them or not, it's up to you.  Sometimes it takes a phone call.  Whatever the action is, just do it.  I believe you'll feel a lot better when you have completed the "crisis of forgiveness" as James MacDonald would say.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32

My capacity for forgiveness is directly related to my comprehension of how much God loves me.

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