Seriously…I have a book called “Total Forgiveness” that I have underlined to death and has been hucked across the room with a scream on more than one occasion. I had gotten it from a counselor so obviously, I had to buy her a new one to return to her. Besides, I really need to read it regularly, so keeping it in my daily reading pile is essential.
Forgiveness, I am realizing as I am trying to narrow down what to write, is a HUGE, sensitive and scary topic. To be honest, I don’t really like it ( unless it’s towards me, of course 🙂 ). Let me give you a few truths about forgiveness that are particularly hard for me to swallow; To accept as reality even when everything in me cringes at the very suggestion. If I want to TOTALLY FORGIVE and be TOTALLY FREE in my heart and be TOTALLY able to relate authentically to the God who sent his son to die to give me this same forgiveness, then I must:
1. Not let anyone else know what was done to me or said about me by those who hurt me (epic fail in this area for me)
2 not allow my offender to be afraid or intimidated by me (worrying that I might “tell” on them to others.)
3. desire that they forgive themselves and not feel guilty or bad about what they have done (hard one for me). Show them there is a reason God can use it for good.
4. remember that it is a life-long commitment. If I am prepared to make a covenant to forgive-and forgive TOTALLY- I must realize I will have to renew this covenant tomorrow. And it may be even harder to do tomorrow than it is today. It could even be harder next week-or next year. But again-it’s a life-long commitment.
*I must never tell what I know, cause my offenders to feel fear, make them feel guilty, hope they will lose face or reveal their most devastating secrets. And I must keep this up for as long as I live.
…Ok. Is anyone else mad yet? I find those truths annoying, unfair (my dear friend always says, “FAIR is where you go to get a corndog 🙂 ) and exhausting. I realize I sound like and ungrateful brat. But here is some good news that appeals to my selfish nature-it’s a place I can start until GOD gives me the ability to love and forgive like He loves and forgives me. That too, is a life-long commitment. So, here it is, from what I have learned in recovery rooms and books:
“Forgiveness is NO FAVOR. We do it for no one but ourselves. We simply pay too high a price when we refuse to forgive. Lingering resentments are like acid eating away at us. Rehearsing and re-rehearsing old injuries robs us of all that is precious. Shame never liberated a single spirit. And self-righteousness never softened a heart. Can we afford to perpetuate such destructiveness? Surely we can make better use of our time and energy. Although we may despise what others have done, if we keep in mind that everything we are now trying to do has the goal of healing us, we are bound to decide that the best thing we can do for OURSELVES is to FORGIVE.”
As I sat at a church function a few months ago I was battling with the crazy “squirrels” of unforgivness that were running wild in my mind. My dear husband reminded me not to let others live rent-free in my head. I thought about that for a minute and then it dawned on me that nothing is totally free. SOMEONE has to pay that rent. Then it hit me like a punch in the gut…I WAS THE ONE PAYING!!!!! “Those people” have moved on, are living their lives, not giving me a second thought. I am most likely the only one suffering and I am the one causing the suffering to myself. Here is what I have found as the only solution that actually works for me: Pray for my enemies. Jesus wasn’t just making up some pithy slogan-He knows that I will not be free until I can be free of my resentments.
Here is a suggested solution from a “prominent Clergyman”: He says, in effect: “If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, YOU WILL BE FREE. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, YOU WILL BE FREE. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and YOU WILL BE FREE. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and want it for them, and you will realized that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”
I have a list of people on my phone that I have to do this for daily if I want to remain FREE of the resentment and bitterness that make ME sick. WHen I feel this soul-sickness, it is almost always directly related to the fact that I have neglected that list for a chunk of time. 2 Weeks is a good start, but some of us, namely me, are sicker than that. Everyday for the rest of my life is a better life-forgiveness plan for me. Just start somewhere so you can begin your journey to freedom as well.