Forgiveness Part 2
When we are most hurt, and it feels irreparable, we think, “I will never forgive that person for hurting me!” And we often hear in news around the country and the world of behavior that sounds unforgivable. Yet, forgiveness is often touted at a cure-all for spiritual and mental health.
As a pastor, I hear inspiring stories of forgiveness that have brought healing and wholeness. Often, pastors coach people in forgiveness who are skeptical. What turns many people off to the work of forgiveness is that they feel the other person does not deserve to be forgiven or that forgiveness is a response only of the weak. Both, of these could not be further from the truth! So, let me share little more of my perspectives on forgiveness.
Forgiveness is letting go of the grievance that you hold. By letting go of a grievance, the feelings of resentment and revenge associated with it eventually fade. Anger is a funny thing in that it takes work to get through it- it can grow if left to its own devices, and it can take hijack a person’s life. So, it’s best to resolve anger and hurt.
Why should I forgive? If your own freedom and happiness are not reasons enough for you, medical studies have shown that forgiveness is good for your own emotional and physical health. Bitterness, anger, and hate have a very caustic effect of our body and mind (i.e. high blood
pressure). It is also important to remember that forgiveness is not really forgiveness if it is forced. Forgiveness is helpful to your own recovery after a trauma when it is given time to grow. It takes nurturing, but forcing forgiveness can deepen the trauma.
So, let’s talk how it’s done. How do we grow to forgive? How one forgives is just as personal as the hurt one feels. You will need to find what works for you. For me, I find writing a letter helpful. I find a time and place where I can be unrushed and alone with my thoughts. Then, I write a letter to the person who caused the hurt. In a letter, you can write down all the feelings, thoughts, the experience from your perspective AND all the anger you feel. This is your letter. No one ever has to read it, so say it in your way. In a word: vent. When the venting is done, start facing forward. Choose to let go of the pain and hate: Write it down because it will take some reminding. Then write down how you are going to live differently in the future, stronger and wiser for the experience. Consider how you have grown through the experience and write that down, too. Lastly, when I am writing such a letter, I remind myself of a time I need to be forgiven. These are the reasons Jesus came to live with us, so we can see what is possible and what can be forgiven.
Forgiveness may be the most difficult thing that we do in this life. I believe that it leads to profound spiritual growth. Nothing will drive you deeper into prayer, better illuminate your own faults, or make more real your dependence on God.
Grace and peace,