Monday, July 13, 2009

Forgiveness, Part Two

Posted by Terry McNichols

While I’m on the subject of forgiveness, here’s another great resource on forgiveness, written many years ago by a good friend of mine, Linda Hall, M.S. (I have lost contact with Linda, but still use this: Practical Steps in Forgiving -- A Prayer Model)

1. Assign Proper Responsibility.
1. To self – admit your contribution, even if only 25%.
2. To others – explore possible projection of anger toward offender due to unresolved conflict with others (in other words, who else has offended you in this way? Is the intensity of your bitterness magnified by past wounds by someone else?)
3. To offender – call a spade a spade. Don’t make excuses for the person. If it was wrong or hurtful, admit that. There is a saying, “We must convict before we can forgive.”
2. Identify Specific Offenses.
1. Survey the damage (like Nehemiah did of damaged walls of Jerusalem).
2. Make a list. General bad feelings toward someone are almost always the accumulation of a lot of offenses. Blanket forgiveness is not very effective. Must be specific and address each item one by one.
3. Share Your Honest Feelings With God.
1. Allow God into depth of your pain = intimacy with God.
2. More honest relationship with Him (Example: David).
3. Share your feelings out loud (Ps. 61:1-3, Ps. 62:8, Ps. 64:1, Ps 77:1-15, Ps. 102:1-7, Ps. 142:1-7).
4. Identify the Losses (Debts).
1. What did they “rob” you of? (dignity, reputation, sense of value, dreams, purity, wholeness, validation, etc.)
2. What do they “owe” you? (a normal childhood, love, a certain relationship, money, etc.)
5. Grieve the Losses.
1. Helps us get to the depth of our pain and allows the Lord to heal us from the bottom of our wound up.
2. Jesus identifies with our grief (Is. 53:3, 4)
3. Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
6. Letting Go, One by One.
1. Forgiveness is a choice, a decision – NOT a feeling. A change in feeling doesn’t usually come until much later.
2. A sample prayer which summarizes the process experienced in steps 1-6:
“Lord, when _______________(person) did ______________(offense)
I felt ___________________(say with full emotion). However, in obedience to You and as an act of my will, I choose to forgive ______________(person) for ___________ (offense) and let go of all accusations, anger and bitterness I have held against ___________(person) for this offense. I release it all to you.
7. Forgive the Debts or Losses One by One.
1. Use similar prayer as above.
2. Sometimes helpful to write the debts down as “IOU’S” and then tear them up when done.
8. Identify Revengeful Fantasies.
1. Romans 12:17-21. Revenge is not our job. God will do it better and without being “burned.”
2. He is not blind or deaf to what happened (Example: Miriam and Aaron who slandered Moses – the Lord HEARD it – Numbers 12:2).
9. Confess Your Bitterness as Sin.

10. Choose to “Forget.”
1. The Lord forgets ours (Is. 43:25).
2. Your will is stronger than your memory. This may sound impossible, but as you choose to “forget” the memory fades along with the painful feelings. Forgetting is a matter of choosing not to keep the matter “alive” – not to nurse or feed it or keep bringing it out to “look at.” It is a laying down, a burying of the wrong. Sometimes it is helpful to picture putting the offenses into a huge treasure chest, taking it out to sea, and dropping it overboard to the bottom of the ocean.

[Some reasons we don’t want to forget are: 1. We want a scapegoat to blame our problems on. 2. Our flesh loves nursing self-pity. 3. Our hurts have become trophies that appear to “comfort” us. 4. We are afraid if we forget, we won’t have a defense for ourselves.]
11. Choose to Bless Them.
1. Do good things for them. I Peter 3:8, 9. For example a gift, card, kind words, attitudes, etc. (Example: Joseph).
2. There is a need to counteract negative attitudes with positive ones. Romans 12:20, 21 – cultural context.
3. Pray for the person. Job 42:10.
12. Bless God.
1. In everything give thanks. (I Thess. 5:16).
2. You know you have come full cycle when you reach this stage.
Please keep in mind the previous process is helpful when praying about past hurts. However, it is not a substitute for healthy conflict resolution, confrontation and reconciliation between persons.
(Photo by cheerfulmonk, shared via Flickr)

1 comment:

Peggy Forster said...

Good good advice and steps to follow. I needed to revisit alot of this. Thanks for infusing God in so much of it.