In our last post we discussed a letter-writing technique that will be helpful in allowing us to forgive one who has wronged us. This technique is most useful in situations involving our spouses, but just as useful in addressing anger and resent that is being stored up in circumstances with friends, family and even co-workers.
A quick summary of the technique will refresh your memory. First, find a nice secluded place to write a forgiveness letter. It doesn’t matter where you go as long as you can have a place to concentrate. Try your best to eliminate the distractions of the outside world.
Second, address the letter to your spouse (or whoever wounded you) and then follow it with your statement of forgiveness: “I choose to forgive you for (whatever that issue might be)” Then, write down how you feel about the idea of forgiving them for this issue. Write down the second emotional response, then the third. Continue writing until all that you feel is written on the paper before you. 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 hurt. Go back to part one of this post if you need more elaboration or an example.
We follow this letter with a technique that allows you to receive closure in those areas that you need to forgive in your spouse (or others). It is known as “the empty chair technique.” Take a seat next to another chair and imagine that your spouse is sitting there, willing to receive what you wrote in your letter. Read the letter aloud to them, and each time you make your statement of forgiveness, imagine your spouse accepting your forgiveness. Take as long as necessary to complete this process.
Once you have shared your letter of forgiveness, destroy it thoroughly. There is no need to actually share it with your spouse or to keep it on hand to revisit. It is done; now let it go. This is an issue between God and yourself. If the enemy tries to throw it back in your face, remind yourself that you are done harboring resentment about that and have given it to God.
Now that you have concluded this assignment, do not take back what you have extended. It’s time to leave the hurt at the foot of the cross and go forward on your journey of forgiveness which includes allowing God to heal you of the residue from the hurt left behind. Is there anyone else in your life that has hurt you? Is there anyone else you need to forgive? It would benefit you to go through this process again, addressing those other people toward whom you have developed bitterness. God wants your yoke to be light. It’s time to let go of the anger so that you focus your energy toward what God has planned for you instead.
Remember, the decision to forgive is immediate but the journey of healing for what you are forgiving of may be an ongoing journey. As you come to accept the fact that you have forgiven, the pain from past hurts will begin to diminish. Be Blessed!
©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design
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