Forgiveness is Not a Suggestion (Part I)

extending-forgiveness-1

I see countless people in my office that struggle with moving beyond the hurt in their lives.  A key component of moving forward involves ones ability to forgive those who have wronged us.  We confused and think that if we forgive we condone the other persons bad behavior.  When the religious folks of the time asked Jesus, “How are we required to forgive?”  His concise response, “Seven times seventy.”  Jesus was not referring to a specific number, he was telling the people that we are ALWAYS called to forgive.  Forgiveness is less about the other person than a way for us to move forward and develop a heart of hatred.  Once the bitterness is established it’s like giving the offending party permission to continue to victimize us.  I would like to share a technique that will help to put you on the road to forgiveness.  The healing process may take some time, but this will allow you to solidify the decision to forgive.

Find yourself a nice secluded place. It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you can have a place to concentrate.  Have plenty of paper on hand.  It may take more than one sitting to complete task and you don’t want anyone to read this letter.  Begin this process by praying that God would give you the strength and courage to address the pain and hurt that will likely surface as you start to write your list of hurts.

Address the letter to your spouse and then follow it with your statement of forgiveness: “I choose to forgive you for…”   No doubt several feelings will surface. Identify the pain that would interfere with your ability to forgive.  Write down the first emotional responses to your statement of forgiveness.  In other words, how do you feel about the idea of forgiving your spouse for this issue.   Write down the second emotional response, then the third. Write them all out, beginning each time with “I choose to forgive you for…”   Let them flow.

Continue writing until all that you feel is written on the paper before you. This process will help to move some of these destructive, hurtful feelings out of you and into the open, much as a surgeon tries to cut away anything that would interfere with the normal functioning of your body. Feel free to write as much as you need to write.  Once you have addressed all the feelings that surfaced from your first statement of forgiveness, take a breath and write “I forgive you” for a final time regarding that issue.

Example:

Dear Jim,

I forgive you for not making me a priority in our relationship.

  • Why am I bothering to forgive you? You couldn’t care less!
  • I’ll never have priority over your friends.
  • I hate it when you work all the time and have no time for me!
  • It embarrasses and hurts me when I hear how my friends’ husbands enjoy time with their wives.

I forgive you for not making me a priority in our relationship.

Now we move on to your next statement of forgiveness.  Write “I forgive you for…” and go through the same process as just described.  You will continue to move through all the issues you have been harboring resentment about, letting them go one by one by extending forgiveness for them.

When you feel that you have addressed everything you want to cover in your letter, take a moment to reflect on what you have just completed.  Congratulations, this was a monumental task!  Do not feel that you must complete this in one sitting, as the emotions generated by this assignment may require that you revisit it a couple of times to complete it.

What now?  In the next post, we will complete the p[rocess of extending forgiveness to others by addressing the letter that you have completed.

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Emotions, Forgiveness, Restoration

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