Forgiving is not forgetting; it’s actually remembering–remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don’t want to repeat what happened.
Breathing In – Forgiving ourselves and other people, September 9, 2014
Artwork by Brooke Summers Perry
Holding on to unforgiveness is like preparing the poison of revenge for another person and then drinking it yourself.
Kelli: I have been preaching a lot about forgiveness lately. I finished the sermon series last Sunday, so today I want to finish up with the quotes and ideas that I found useful and practical. Forgiveness is part of the very nature of God. When we are called to be like Jesus – to take on his competency and character – forgiveness is the key that opens the door to grace.
Although disagreement is inevitable and forgiveness is hard, forgiveness brings in our healing and peace. (I don’t know who said this first because I found the magnet hanging on my refrigerator with these words printed on it).
Don’t quarrel with anyone. Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible. Romans 12:18 TLB
Larsen and Hegarty, Days of Healing, Days of Joy: We need to rebuild the bridge. People, like islands, need ways to see and reach and touch hands over all that separating water. Making connections is the only way. Unless we can hear each other singing and crying, unless we can comfort each other’s failures and share each other’s victories, we are missing out on the best that life has offer. The only real action takes place on the bridge between people. Today, I ask my Higher Power for the courage to build another bridge.
Kelli: We can only build those bridges when we are willing to forgive ourselves and each other.
Thomas Merton: The one thing necessary is a true interior and spiritual life, true growth, on my own, in-depth, in a new direction. Whatever new direction God opens up for me. My job is to press forward, to grow interiorly, to pray, to break away from attachments and to define fears, to grow in faith, which has its own solitude, to seek an entirely new perspective and new dimension in my life. To open up new horizons at any cost. To desire this and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. But really to desire and work for it. September 21 and 22, 1959, Journal III. 331.
Kelli: In preparing the sermon series on forgiveness, I relied heavily on Ev Worthington’s work on forgiveness and reconciliation. His REACH method of forgiveness is a practical way to put forgiveness into action in our own lives. I wanted to sum it up here because I find it so useful. Forgiveness is like so much of Jesus’ teaching. It’s not hard to understand, it’s just difficult to live out if we try to do it all by ourselves.
R is for Recall. Recall the events and the hurt as accurately and objectively as you can.
E is for Empathize. Try to understand what happened from the point of view of the person who wronged you.
A is for the Altruistic gift of forgiveness. Recall a time that you hurt someone else and were forgiven. And offer this gift to the person who wronged you.
C is for Committing yourself to forgive publicly. Write a letter of forgiveness (whether you send it or not), write in a journal, tell a trusted friend, or, if you can, tell the person who wronged you.
H is for Holding onto forgiveness. Forgiving is not forgetting. Memories of the wrong and feelings will come up. Remind yourself that you have made a choice to forgive.
Kelli: Two books of that I would highly recommend for anyone who struggles with forgiving themselves or someone else are: Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past and Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to Wholeness and Hope. They are both available form Amazon and as Kindle books. Also worth reading is the world of Miroslav Volf and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. All three of these men have lived though unbelievable suffering come though it healed and holy by the grace of God. It is our great privilege they have taken the time to write it down for the rest of us.
This is where forgiveness brings us in the end – an entirely new perspective and new dimension – where we live into our own forgiveness by Holy Love and, out of gratitude for that grace, we find unlimited freedom. My identity and behavior choices bubble up out of forgiveness and grace instead of my human intellect or emotions. But my intellect and emotions are not useless or inconvenient. It is through my human intellect and emotions, I become a partner with Holy Love in the world and the world is transformed by forgiveness and grace. My life has purpose and meaning and I can live without fear of other people or the grave. Death and meaninglessness have been swallowed up by Life and Abundance.
P.S. On the Musical Expressions page of this site,
there is a track from my first album . The song is a cover of The Judd’s Love Can Build A Bridge. I hope you will take the time to listen.
When it comes to a question of our forgiving other people, it is partly the same and partly different. It is the same because, here also, forgiving does not mean excusing. Many people seem to think it does. They think that if you ask them to forgive someone who has cheated or bullied them you are trying to make out that there was really no cheating or no bullying. But if that were so, there would be nothing to forgive. They keep on replying, “But I tell you the man broke a most solemn promise.” Exactly: that is precisely what you have to forgive. (This doesn’t mean that you must necessarily believe his next promise. It does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.) The difference between this situation and the one in which you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not accept them easily enough.
God, we believe, accepts us, accepts all men, unconditionally, warts and all. Laughter is the purest form of our response to God’s acceptance of us. For when I laugh at myself I accept myself and when I laugh at other people in genuine mirth I accept them. Self-acceptance in laughter is the very opposite of self-satisfaction or pride. For in laughter, I accept myself not because I’m some sort of super-person, but precisely because I’m not. There is nothing funny about a super-person. There is everything funny about a man who thinks he is. In laughing at my own claims to importance or regard, I receive myself in a sort of loving forgiveness which is an echo of God’s forgiveness of me. In much conventional contrition there is a selfishness and pride which are scarcely hidden. In our desperate self-concern, we blame ourselves for not being the super-people we think we really are. But in laughter we sit light to ourselves. That is why laughter is the purest form of our response to God. – From Tensions by H.A. Williams
I call to you, O Lord, from my quiet darkness. Show me your mercy and love. Let me see your face, hear your voice, touch the hem of your cloak. I want to love you, be with you, speak to you and simply stand in your presence. But I cannot make it happen. Pressing my eyes against my hand is not praying, and reading about your presence is not living in it. But there is that moment in which you will come to me, as you did to your fearful disciples, and say, “Do not be afraid; it is I.” Let that moment come soon, O Lord. And if you want to delay it, then make me patient. Amen – From A Cry for Mercy by Henri J.M. Nouwen