The Practice Of Forgiveness

There is no life without forgiveness. Why do we forgive people? Why do we forgive those that wronged us? We have been betrayed by our loved ones, friends, bosses, co-workers, even by our elected officials.

How do we forgive those that have wronged us?

According to Marianne Williamson, “The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.” 

Are we ready to forgive? Maybe, maybe not.

But when we are ready to forgive people that hurt us, the following could happen, according Philip Yancey, in his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace,:

  • Forgiveness -undeserved, unearned- can cut the cords and let the oppressive burden of guilt roll away;
  • Forgiveness can loosen the stranglehold of guilt in the perpetrator;
  • Forgiveness alone can halt the cycle of blame and pain, breaking the chain of ungrace;
  • Forgiveness offers a way out. It does not settle all questions of blame and fairness- often it pointedly evades those questions- but it does allow a relationship to start over, to begin anew;
  • Lewis Smedes points out, “The first and often the ONLY person to be healed by forgiveness is the person who forgives……When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover that the prisoner we set free was us.”

Further, in the same process of forgiving people and ourselves, Lewis Smedes details this process of “spiritual surgery”: When you forgive someone, you slice away the wrong from the person who did it. You disengage that person from their hurtful act. You recreate them. At one moment you identify them ineradicably as the person who did you wrong. The next moment you change that identity. They are remade in our memory. You think of them now not as the person who hurt you, but a person who needs you. You feel them now not as the person who alienated you, but as the person who belongs to you. Once you branded him as a person powerful in evil, but now you see him as person weak in his needs. You recreated your past by recreating the person whose wrong made your past painful.”

If we refuse to forgive people who hurt us, we are in a self-created prison, and we can never freely move forward. We cannot change. We will live in the past forever.

Questions for you:

  1. Do you want to do that to yourself?
  2. Do you want to destroy the “beautiful” life that God has created for you?
  3. Do you want to live in a permanent darkness?
  4. Do you want to live in prison for the rest of your life?

If yes to these questions listed above, good for you.

If no to these questions listed above, do it now!

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