The Process of Forgiveness, Step 6: Becoming Bitter or Better

Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why does He allow the horrible injustices in this world? These ageless questions have been asked no doubt for as long as man has existed. I have asked them myself. You probably have as well. Though God alone knows the greater story, we can gain some insight if we are willing to look beyond our pain or the injustice and consider the very purpose of our existence. What part might we play in His greater story?

The Process of Forgiveness Step 6

We all long to have impact. We want to make a difference in the life of another. What if this is one of the greatest experiences to be had in life?

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The Process of Forgiveness, Step 5: Letting Go (An Absurd Example)

Every time it happens–someone cuts me off in the road, I get cheated out of some money, or someone treats me rudely for no real reason–I bristle and sometimes worse than that. Why did they do that? What right do they have? That isn’t fair! I am going to…

The Process of Forgiveness Step 5

Usually before going much further, I stop. But the anger is still there. Too often, forgiveness is far from my mind. Instead, I want to hurt back in the way they hurt me. More thoughts come to mind: It would serve them right. Who do they think they are anyway?

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The Process of Forgiveness, Step 4: Are You Humble Enough?

The plain fact of the matter is I didn’t WANT to forgive him. That was the conclusion I had come to and had to be honest about with myself and God. I simply didn’t want to. He wronged me and I just wanted to move on. He did what he did and I was out of there. Why think about it anymore?

The Process of Forgiveness Step 4

That is where I found myself time and again when faced with the idea of forgiving the one who had wronged me. I knew the words of Jesus: “if you do not forgive, neither will My Father in heaven forgive you,” but again, I just didn’t want to think about it, so I focused on other more important matters, or so they felt.

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The Process of Forgiveness, Step 3: Winning Over Evil

When couples come in to my office I never know what kind of story I will hear. Often it is one of great hurt because of a wrong done by a spouse. As I listen, one thing becomes clear every time. The person is at a crossroads because of the wound that was inflicted. What was done to them has the power to destroy. Whether that destruction is fully released depends largely upon the person’s response to the wrong done.

The Process of Forgiveness Step 3

In order for one to overcome the wounding that took place, acceptance of the wrong done must take place as I wrote about in my last blog.

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The Process of Forgiveness, Step 2: Acceptance

As I wrote in my last blog (Step 1), when we are wronged we will experience all kinds of emotions. Naming those emotions and understanding why we are feeling them is part of the journey to forgive. Doing so has the settling effect of untangling our internal thoughts and reactions. It moves us forward towards the next phase which is acceptance.

The Process of Forgiveness Step 2

Our Response to Hurt

Our tendency is to fight whenever we are hurt. Sometimes we quickly hurt back to get even.

Sometimes we fall into a rut of asking endless questions: “Why? Why did you do this? Why did this happen? Why me? What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this?”

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The Process of Forgiveness, Step 1: Acknowledgement

Shame. Anger. Self-doubt. Fear. I am well acquainted with these emotions that come and go in my life. When I trace their roots, I find they are often associated with several people in my life who have wronged me.

The Process of Forgiveness Step 1

Most days I think I have forgiven them. But some days I still wonder. I don’t always want to be around them. I can’t say I always like them. I pray for them at times. I wish them good and not evil–for the most part at least.

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Forgiveness: A Process or Event?

Most of the time I hear people teach or talk about forgiveness they speak of it as an event. It is just something “you need to do” they say. “Now repeat these words after me: ‘I forgive ________ for ________________________.'” Fill in the blanks however you will. And it is over.

Forgiveness process (large)

Whereas I don’t want to completely discount what can take place in times like that, I also wonder: is that it? Is that all it takes? Is it over that quickly?

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Can You Forgive Someone Who Isn’t Sorry?

There is no one on this planet who escapes being wronged by others. It is inevitable. Humans are prone to look out first for themselves. As a result, we end up hurting each other – sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com/profile_wavebreakmediamicro

Depending upon the degree to which a person is focused on themselves, they may or may not be willing to humble themselves and ask forgiveness.

What do we do when they don’t? Can we still forgive them whether or not they ask for it? Can we forgive someone who isn’t sorry?

This is a toughie for me – maybe for you as well. I have some thoughts, and would love to hear yours at the end of this read.

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The Trouble with “Forgive and Forget”

I have heard it said on many occasions “you need to forgive and forget.” My internal response is always the same. “What?” “Are you kidding?” “Have you ever been hurt by someone?”

forgive forget (large)

As a counselor, I have heard stories ranging from incidental hurts to horrors unspeakable. I have spoken with those who have been hurt and with those who have caused the hurt. If freedom, peace, and true healing is to take place for either person, forgiveness must occur.

But does that mean you forget?

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Will You Forgive Me?

It is a question I don’t ask often enough. I am aware that for some reason it is easier to simply say “I am sorry,” or even in some instances to say nothing at all. Asking “will you forgive me?” seems more humbling, perhaps even more risky. It is also a question that illicits a number of other questions in my mind like:

ALT="Will you forgive me?"
  • What does forgiveness really mean?
  • Is the phrase “forgive and forget” true? Is that what forgiveness means?
  • Will I be expected to forget it?
  • How do I forgive?
  • Will he or she hurt me again if I forgive?
  • What do I do when I still have feelings of hurt and anger?
  • Is forgiveness an event or a process?
  • How many times do I have to forgive?

Let’s start with the first question.

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