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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

A few days ago, I wrote:

“Perhaps our offerings of forgiveness
do not need to be felt to do do their good work.
Perhaps they are, quite simply, an investment in the future…our future.”
(Forgiveness 101a)

As I continue my pursuit in A Lesson in Forgiveness, things get more … uncomfortable.

I think most of us dislike confrontation. We can change subjects, diverting conversations and people’s movements to avoid the churning in the pit of our stomach that a potential confrontation can birth.

So, how does this relate to forgiveness?

When we offer forgiveness, whether with our just our will to invest in our own well being, or to absolve another of guilt, we need to express our pardon to the one we are forgiving.

Why?

I mean, if forgiving someone is primarily for the benefit of the one doing the forgiving, does it really matter to communicate that forgiveness? Especially if the one you are forgiving doesn’t acknowledge that there was anything to forgive?

Short answer … yes.

lament

Again, the reason is, primarily, for the one offering forgiveness.

To name what we are forgiving,
is to speak to where we were hurt

This is similar to when when one is in an automobile accident, and the emergency responders ask, where does it hurt? Treatment for pain can not take place effectively until the source of pain is located. Sometimes, just speaking the truth of the pain can be healing in itself. To name what is being forgiven, perhaps even explaining what effect it has had, is to no longer allow negative power to have control of our lives.

To name what we are forgiving,
is to accept accountability

If with our words, we say that we forgive, we have opened the door to be held accountable to actually live that way. This means that we are obligated to ensure we do not allow our hurt, anger or bitterness to resurface. In sharing our intent, we close the door on this painful past … and lock it up tight.

To name what we are forgiving,
is to provide opportunity for 
reconciliation

Reconciliation is not the goal of forgiveness, but forgiveness can be the impetus to move in that direction. To say what you are forgiving is to give a victim impact statement … sharing how far the ripples created by another’s actions or words have spread. Perhaps the one who is being forgiven had no idea of the effect they had on another. By making the first move, a door may be opened to mutual healing and possibly even restoration of the broken relationship.

Speaking of our pain is like the Biblical practise of lament.

What this naming or lamenting does is it strips the heart of pretence … it enables us to be bare, real before our offender, before our God, no longer covering our festering wounds, but allowing air and light to start the process of healing.

To name what we are forgiving, to the one we are forgiving, is still an investment in our future … going forward no longer looking back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Over the past three weeks I have been researching the topic of forgiveness, since writing about it in my post A Lesson in Forgiveness, where I wrote of how I felt God was stalking me with the topic of forgiveness.

Then, Sunday afternoon, as I was driving down the highway, as the sun was shining bright in the clear blue sky, the words of Ann Voskamp whispered into my thoughts,

“gratitude always precedes the miracle”

Her understanding being that we do not wait until the miracle happens to be thankful, but we are thankful first and the miracle follows. The question then is, what is the miracle?

the ‘thing’ we hoped and prayed for?

or the change in our hearts and minds?

So what does this have to do with forgiveness?

Good question.

When my children were young they were known to say or do something that hurt, offended or frustrated their sibling. When this would occur, I would instruct that they must apologize to their sibling. This was not always met with agreement, on their part, yet I insisted on this. Then the offended sibling was instructed to offer forgiveness.

I remember hearing a mom say that she thought that such insistence on this practise of going through the motions was pointless, for they were simply saying words that were expected of them.

Her words made me ponder … did I simply insist on this ritual because it was what I had grown up hearing and doing? was there a greater purpose behind the practise?

The more I pondered, the more resolute I became in my belief that this behavioural modification did, indeed, have good and long lasting positive impact.

I observed that, once the apologies were said and forgiveness given, play continued … unhindered by the offences of the past. The forced apologies and pardons acted as a reset button, providing opportunity to start over.

Though this is an example from childhood, perhaps it has something to teach us in adulthood (and it is so much easier to instruct the young than for us to be instructed in our adulthood).

Perhaps our offerings of forgiveness
do not need to be felt to do do their good work.
Perhaps they are,
quite simply,
an investment in the future
… our future.

As I drove down the highway, last Sunday. As the sun was shining bright in the clear blue sky. As I was, once again, able to sing praises from my soul (not just from my lips. I understood the value in having offered forgiveness to those who have never offered apology. I understood that. like Ann Voskamp’s quote about thanksgiving preceding the miracle,

forgiveness of the will
precedes
forgiveness in the heart

What I had done out of rote practise, with little expectation, other than compliance, obedience, birthed delightful freedom, like a reset button had been pressed, in my own soul.

IMG_4459 (1)

 

 

 

 

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IMG_4461 (1)When one is convicted by God, it is clear … unless you feel really uncomfortable with the lesson God has for you, then the instinct to flee and forget is greatest.

Such was the case when God was stalking me, prodding me to immerse myself into understanding forgiveness.

The first biblical reference that came to mind was from Luke 23:40, when Jesus was hanging on the cross and he cried out:

“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing” 

But what if they do know what they are doing/have done?

This is the verse that is reminded to people when the their injury is still bleeding. Can forgiveness happen before the full weight of the trauma is felt? Can one forgive before the one who did the injury feels the weight of their actions?

Then there is the story of Joseph in the Old Testament (Genesis 37, 39-48). Our favoured boy in the coat of many colours, attacked, then sold by his brothers into slavery. After years of slavery, he became favoured by Pharaoh, a man with a position and power. Then, during a famine ‘chance’ gave them opportunity to reunite (unbeknownst to the brothers). And Joseph forgave them … NOT! Joseph played head games with them, putting them in prison, asking if they had any brothers at home, then having them leave Simon as a prisoner until their return with Benjamin. Placing their payment for grain, a silver cup in their sacks, to test their honesty. It wasn’t until he heard them speaking in Hebrew, saying, “now we must give an accounting for his (Joseph’s) blood” (42:22), that he knew they were repentant … then he forgave.

What? I have always been taught that we forgive regardless of the repentance of the one who wronged us!

Within the story of Joseph is a fascinating tidbit about how Joseph dealt with the sins committed against him by his brothers:

“Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Genesis 41: 51). What?! God made him forget what was done to him? But he never forgave them. I have always been told that forgiveness is for the victim, the one who is wronged … that we forgive so that we might have peace. It would seem that Joseph had peace simply by God granting him amnesia over the events that had been done.

Within the Lord’s prayer we hear the words, And forgive us our debts/transgressions/sins, as we also have forgiven our debtors/transgressors/sinners” (Matthew 6:12). But, does that only qualify if what someone else did to us was an actual sin? What if they said something thoughtless or mean-spirited? Is that forgivable? Does God only forgive us inasmuch as we have forgiven others?

So many questions!

Since I started immersing myself into the topic of forgiveness I have found myself with far more questions than answers. I find that much more of my understanding of the topic of forgiveness has to do with psychology, song lyrics and cliches than that of biblical instruction and application. I know there must be more to this topic and I am determined to unearth it.

So, for the next few weeks I am planning on spending my blog-writing time (basically every spare, waking moment) immersing myself in what it is to forgive. There will still be posts rolling out on this site … reposts of blogs posts of the past seven years.

Forgive my absence 😉

 

 

 

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“… for this I do apologize to you and Carole …”

As I read that apology I could hear my inner voice bubbling up to the surface, mockingly stating,

“that’s it!?”

The error, made by a business who omitted their own commission in the multitude of contracts that hubby and I signed.

When the ‘deal’ was done, they discovered their commission omission, and quickly let us know what we still owed.

To say that we were shocked, would be an understatement.

A significant amount of money had already gone to grease the hands of others. Part of that money intended to insure that all i’s were dotted and all t’s were crossed.

After the shock of yet another bill was digested, we sat down to carefully, thoughtfully respond to this email announcement. We explained, right off the top, that we would certainly pay what was owed, but we also explained our disappointment, and shock that this important detail was missed, and that we were now left holding the bag.

We waited the reply …

nothing,

for five days.

Then, when it did arrive the response was,

“for this I do apologize to you and Carole …”

And that was it …

I admit, although we are more than willing, and plan to repay fully what we owe, I was hoping that the apology would eliminate the cost … after all, it was their mistake, they should have to pay for it!

Right?

And then I remembered the story, the story that reminds me that we have all made mistakes.

It is the story from Matthew 18:21-35, of the unforgiving debtor.

The story is told of a man who owed a king a butt-load of bucks that he could not repay, so the king called his loan, and said that the man, and his entire family would need to be sold into slavery to repay his debt.

The man begged the king for patience, promising to pay it all in full!

The king not only agreed, but forgave the debt completely! He was now a man freed from the chains of his debt.

What mercy this man received! He must have felt profound grace!

NOT!

This man immediately went to another man who owed him money, wrapped his hands around his throat and insisted that the man pay his debt immediately … or else!

This man begged for a little more time, promising to repay in full (sound familiar?).

And what did this man, who had just had his own debt forgiven, do?

He had the guy thrown into prison!

News of this got back to the kind, who was livid!

He had this man, whose debt he forgave, brought to him, and he let his rage loose on him.

The king said,

“You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”

Then the king had this man imprisoned, and he literally took the debt from him in flesh and bone.

The parable ends with Jesus telling his disciple, Peter,

 “that’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

And so, with great humility, I will accept the apology of the man who made a mistake, and forgive him. I will pay him what he is owed.

Because …

that is how my heavenly Father has dealt with my debts …

He has forgiven.

Forgiveness-Quotes-59

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It was a recent conversation with my eldest daughter (who happens to be a Psych. Major) that made me ponder the effects of my being a mother has on my being a daughter.

I had a good childhood, surrounded by a cornucopia of immediate and extended family members.

I lived in a place where community meant everyone (but what else could it mean in a village of less than two thousand people?).

I got a good education, by people who cared about their students.

I was exposed to Christianity, even though my parents did not practice that lifestyle.

I was encouraged that I could do whatever I put my mind to.

I was loved … really, really loved.

If I were to attach one word to my childhood it would be … blessed!

Now, get your imaginations out of Cleverville! I said blessed … not perfect! not flawless! not without tears! or hurts! or disappointments! or damage!

There was a time in my early adulthood that I vividly felt the flaws of my upbringing … the hurts from childhood … the damages. I pondered (too long) the disappointments I felt in some of my memories and experiences.

This is all normal, for we need to go through the ice-cold waters in our memories to start to feel the warmth again. We need to feel the frigid to realize that our parents are not perfect … so as to prepare us for the reality that, as parents, we too are not perfect.

As I look back on my own parenting of our three kids, it is when they were very young, that the warmth of forgiveness began to touch my mother-heart.

Anyone with young children will tell you of the ease with which a child will forgive. I remember going to each of our kids on many (many, many, many) occasions to apologize for some hurt, disappointment, damage … tears that I caused them. Each time my kids would immediately, readily, enthusiastically respond, “it’s okay Mommy.” And there and then, my sins forgiven, it was over and forgotten.

As my kids are growing into the young adult years, I am becoming more and more aware that they will soon be sliding into more reflective, more critical years as they look back on their own childhoods … on their own mother. I realize I will need to grow thicker skin, and discerning ears. I realize I will need to put unconditional love into practice.

It is my own kid’s unconditional forgiveness of me, that helped me to forgive, and forget the imperfections of my own parents. It is through my own kids that I was able to look at my parents as having done what they did, with the knowledge and experience available to them when they were in the deep waters of parenting.

With all that said, they did the best they could … and I was blessed.

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For the next week, I will be featuring guest posts, as I spend my regular ‘writing time’ preparing for a speaking engagement. If you feel led to pray for me in this regard, I would so appreciate it, and specifically that Pinterest does not pre-occupy my writing time 😉 … I am so weak!

Today I am featuring a video from Vimeo called, “When Love Leads.”

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“David and Marlena, on the brink of divorce, discover where true Love and satisfaction are found in this story of redemption and forgiveness,” is the description that Vimeo has of this video, of their story.

Their story is thought-provoking.

As there are many people who read my posts, from as many different individual circumstances, I want to encourage those of you who have walked the road to divorce, from a marriage where you suffered abuse, or where the choice to divorce was made for you, this is not a guilt trip. May healing and wholeness be in your future.

Great+Love+Great+Sacrifice

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Corrie Ten Boom …images-2

Those of us who know of her story feel the weight of our own struggles melt away, in the shadow of what she suffered.

Those of us who know of her story and who hold onto bitterness for the things that others have done to us, feel guilt for not forgiving knowing what she could forgive the awful atrocities she had endured … even the loss of her dear sister, Betsy.

Corrie Ten Boom …

  • her family worked in the Netherlands to save many Jews running and hiding from the Nazi SS
  • someone squealed on their good work
  • Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp
  • both sisters suffered terrible atrocities in the camp
  • Betsie died
  • Corrie lived
  • Corrie came face to face with one of the guards, many years later
  • she had to choose whether or not to forgive

Please take a moment to hear, in the words of Corrie Ten Boom, about forgiveness.

… but He can!

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