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What Forgiveness Is and Is Not

Forgiveness is a state of resentment, bitterness, hatred, hostility, anger, fear, and stress towards an individual who has transgressed against another. Unforgiveness is like a cancer that eats away at the very soul of a person. In some way unforgiveness is like taking the poison yourself and expecting the other person to die.

Forgiveness occurs when the cold feelings of unforgiveness are changed to warm, loving, compassionate, caring emotions because of heartfelt transformation.

Forgiveness does not mean:

  • Does not mean that any wrongs done to you were acceptable
  • Does not diminish the evil and disrespect done against you, nor it is a denial of what happened
  • Is a key part of not letting those wrongs hurt any longer
  • Does not take away the consequences the other person will face because of her actions
  • Is letting go of your desire to hurt the other person. Simply put, forgiveness means, “you cancel a debt”
  • Is a difficult and uncomfortable process. When you make a decision to forgive, God provides the grace and strength to forgive and to maintain a heart of forgiveness.
  • Is not weakness. It is the most powerful thing you can do. Refusing to forgive allows Satan to continue to hurt you, forgiveness stops the destructive power of Satan in one’s life.
  • Is not reconciliation. It takes two to reconcile but only one to forgive.
  • It does not depend on the other’s person’s actions
  • Does not require to become a doormat nor does it require you to allow the offender to hurt you again. Unforgiveness is giving her the power to hurt you over and over again.
  • You must set good boundaries. It is a gift you are giving to the offender
  • Does not wait for the offender to repent. Unlike God who provides forgiveness when we repent, humans cannot demand repentance before granting forgiveness
  • Is about how much you trust God to take care of you
  • Is experiencing empathy for the offender, humility about your own sinfulness and gratitude for being forgiven by God and others

Reasons To Forgive

  • It sets you free to move on with your life
  • It refuses to let the person who hurt you have any power over your life
  • It opens up relationships with God (Matt5:43-48)
  • It keeps you from becoming bitter and thus protects those around you
  • It keeps you from becoming like the person who hurt you
  • Unforgiveness does not hurt the perpetrator at all, it hurts only you
  • Scripture command to be forgiving(Matt 18:21-35)
  • It is ok to be angry and hurt, it is not a sin

Action Steps

Recall the Hurt

  • It is difficult but necessary to recall the hurt
  • Do not minimize or deny the extent of hurt and the person’s pain
  • Do not make excuses for the offender
  • Recalling your hurt is nt for the purpose of finger-pointing but a means to objectively review what has occurred
  • Journaling is a great way to work through anger and hurt. It organizes your thoughts and helps you acknowledge the truth in clear black and white
  • Sometimes writing a letter to the offender is helpful, but don’t mail the letter

Empathize with the person

Write a letter as if you were the offender. You should write about thoughts, feelings, insights, and pressures. Make this letter an apology . how difficult it is to do this?

By placing yourself in the shoes of the person who hurt you, sometimes you begin to understand why the person did what she did

This does not remove blame from the individual but does serve to show that people who hurt are often hurting deeply themselves

Altruistic Gift of Forgiveness

Think about the giving of forgiveness. Think of a time when you did something wrong and were forgiven. Reflect on the wrong doing and guilt you felt. How did it feel to be forgiven? Would you like to give the gift of forgiveness to the person who hurt you?

Write a blank check of forgiveness. Write in your journal that this day you have released the offender from the debt she owes you

You may want to write down the offenses the person had done and then write “CANCELLED” OR “PAID IN FULL” over them

Through these steps also recall the great mercy and grace of God towards you

Commit Publicly to Forgive

Write in your journal or a contract of forgiveness stating that you will not ruminate on the wrongs done to you anymore.

By actually writing it down you will be prone to remember that you have forgiven and are thus freed from the plague of unforgiveness

Tell your family or friends about your decision to forgive. By disclosing your forgiveness to others, you will be held accountable to your decision to forgive

Hold on to Forgiveness

Hold on to forgiveness when doubts arise

There is a difference between remembering a transgression and lacking forgiveness

Make “Stones of Remembrance”. After God parted the Jordan River so the Israelites could go through on dry land, God told Joshua to have each tribe choose a stone to be piled up as a memorial to what great things God had done that day. Those stones served as a remembrance for the people and their children in times to come(Joshua 4). It is good to have something “Concrete to help you remember the day you set the offender free.

Remember to forget. I distinctly remember forgetting that. Though you may never forget, you can remember that you forgave.

There is a difference between mental forgiveness and gut forgiveness. You will forgive with the head right away, but it will take the gut months to catch up

Recognize God’s Hand

Know that God will use the offense to promote personal and spiritual growth and dependence on Him for His plan and glory

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