Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Here's Why You Should Forgive . . . and 3 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Forget

This little sign hangs in my counseling office, The Nest.  A badly broken heart is stitched together.  The scar remains as a reminder of at least one dreadful, soul-searing experience.

Somewhere along the painful journey, choices have been made to get repaired, to begin to heal, to move ahead.

To forgive.

In my role as a pastoral counselor, I've talked to hundreds and hundreds of men and women during the last 17 years.  And I think it's safe to say that between 90% - 95% of those who have sat with me, tissues in hand, are there because there's a forgiveness issue in some way, shape, or form in their lives.

It's hardly ever the 'presenting problem.'  The need to forgive is often disguised by a myriad of family problems, relationship challenges, church upheavals, or workplace issues.  Anger, depression, anxiety, or addictive behaviors are usually in the mix.  Bitter roots have taken up what looks to be permanent residence.  And in the process, the emotions, attitudes, personality, and health of a precious soul have taken a huge hit, slowly transforming the person into someone they never dreamed they'd become.

It's not until the conversation goes much deeper that the root of all the turmoil clearly comes into view.  Someone besides Jesus Christ sits on the throne of their broken hearts, calling the shots, directing the traffic, running the show.  And the only way to unseat that unwelcome, destructive usurper is to make the seemingly impossible choice to forgive.

The sad fact is that until we release those who have run roughshod over us and done us wrong, they will own us, lock, stock, and barrel, with an ugly stranglehold that refuses to be undone.  We will remain dreadfully stuck, mired in the quicksand of the unfortunate past.  Until we can send our perpetrators packing and move ahead with our own lives without constantly looking back and wringing our hands over what was, we will live as powerless victims.

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The one who wounded you along the way may not deserve forgiveness.  And might not even grasp that he needs it.  Or could care less about asking for it.  Chances are they've moved on and forgotten that they were offensive or hurtful or just plain destructive.  But if we want to move ahead and live life to the fullest, forgiveness is a pivotal step that's simply non-negotiable.

I'm thinking we make forgiveness way harder than it needs to be.  It seems cumbersome, impossible ... and somehow so wrong.

But it turns out that forgiveness can be as simple as this ⟹  

Finally telling the Lord, 'I'm done hauling this pain around.  You take it.  I wish my perpetrator well.'

Yes.  That simple.

It doesn't demand justice or explanations or apologies or wrongs to be made right.  It doesn't require more tear-laden conversations or 180 degree turns.

You may have to ask God to do this for you, in you, through you.  Repeatedly.  That's ok.  He knows the purposes of your heart.

I choose to wish you well.

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This is different than reconciliation.  A re-knitting of minds and hearts, a rebuilding of relationship.  That's another story.  And it's lovely when that happens.

But often that isn't the case.  The hurt has been too severe, the pain has lingered far too long, the relationship was toxic or abusive or some such thing that should not be pursued or rekindled.

But you can still wish the person well.  In your heart, in prayer with the Lord.

For He's the One who's not going to abuse you, betray you, abandon you, exclude you, wound your battered soul.

He never leaves, He doesn't forsake, He doesn't change like shifting shadows.

He gets it.  He offered forgiveness on the cross.

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And yes, remembering isn't a bad thing.  For in doing so ...

1.  We become wiser in our future choices of companions, in what we pursue, in what we deem important.

2.  We acknowledge that we are prone to err, to wound others with our self-absorbed pride, careless words, and harmful actions.

3.  We become students of grace and are quicker to ask for forgiveness and not just mumble a quick 'sorry' when we've sinned against another.

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Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
- Colossians 3:12 - 13

And by the way, the hardest person you might have to forgive is yourself.  For your own sinful choices, stupid decisions, or somehow betraying what you valued and held dear.  Take it from a forgiven forgiver.  Because in the end, it was the least I could do to honor the One who had forgiven me for so much ...
Linda

Next Steps 
Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven
- T. D. Jakes
Paperback - $14.95
Kindle - $11.99

The Choosing to Forgive Workbook
- Les Carter & Frank Minirth
Paperback - $6.03 + 3.99 shipping

adapted from a 

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29 comments:

  1. This is a great post, Linda - full of helpful advice. It's so true that it's when we understand Jesus' forgiveness that it enables us to forgive others and leave it with him, and it makes such a difference when we do! I shared the post on Facebook and Twitter.

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    1. Dear Lesley - thanks for inviting your friends into this discussion.

      How much healthier and holier our lives would be if we would choose to more quickly release those who have wounded us.

      Thanks for kicking off this conversation. For sure, it hits home on some level for each one of us.

      Bless you ...

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  2. Thank you for this insightful post, Linda. Over the years, God has taught me that forgiveness does not condone the person's actions, neither does it always mean reconciliation. This is so true in my life - "You may have to ask God to do this for you, in you, through you. Repeatedly." Yes, repeatedly. Sometimes I think I have forgiven, but then a memory triggers and I ask God if I have truly forgiven in my heart. I'm so grateful for God's endless patience with me. And thank you for recognizing the benefits of not forgetting. By grace, the painful experiences lead us deeper into what Jesus suffered for us. Love and blessings to you!

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    1. Dear Trudy - God brought you to mind repeatedly today as I worked on this. You have been so honest and forthcoming in your own personal journey and have given countless women hope and have let them know they're not alone as they forge ahead toward healing.

      I feel so blessed that you've brought your grace and wisdom to the table this afternoon.

      Truly. You are a blessing.

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  3. I used to get stuck on "They don't deserve it," until I realized I didn't deserve it, either, when Jesus forgave me. The parable of the servant who was forgiven a great debt but then wouldn't forgive someone else a much smaller debt brought home to me the truth that God had already forgiven me for more than anything that I had ever been asked to forgive. That melts down my resistance to forgiving.

    I like your reasons for remembering. I don't know who came up with "forgive and forget," but they placed an unnecessary burden on folks when they could not forget even though they forgave.

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    1. You've said it all so beautifully right here, Barbara --> 'I don't know who came up with "forgive and forget," but they placed an unnecessary burden on folks when they could not forget even though they forgave.'

      Father, forgive those who've used guilt and shame and only increased the burdens that wounded souls were already struggling with.

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    2. Thank you for these insightful truths, Barbara. Thank you for understanding that "forgive and forget" places an unnecessary burden on wounded souls. Blessings to you!

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  4. We all need these lessons on forgiveness because we always have new things that come up that we need to forgive, whether people or situations or even God. "But if we want to move ahead and live life to the fullest, forgiveness is a pivotal step that's simply non-negotiable." Yes. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Linda.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yep, the hits just keep on coming, don't they. Oh to keep very short accounts with ourselves and God.

      He knows the deepest secrets of our hearts ... who are we trying to kid if we dare not be totally transparent with Him!

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  5. So.good! Linda, this is a pertinent post. Refusal to forgive keeps so many of us entangled, but I was surprised by your estimate based on what you see in your office. Wow! Good word here.

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    1. As I was considering in recent days the best way to pen this post, that unofficial estimate of 90 % - 95% came to mind and stayed with me. I wasn't all that surprised when I dug through the archives this morning and saw that I used that same unofficial estimate way back in 2012.

      http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2012/07/write-it-off.html

      We're in good company. We're not alone. And our struggles haven't changed over time.

      The wonderful news is that God's power to walk with us, to heal us hasn't changed. His character is the same yesterday, today, forever!

      What a powerful, loving Savior ...

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  6. A very good post. Thanx Linda.

    God bless.

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  7. God used you to remind me that it is a never ending process of asking the Lord to take that bitterness away. Somehow I keep on picking it back up! lol THANK YOU!

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    1. Yeah, it's like we're not sure what we'd look like without it ...

      And we don't realize it's eating us alive like a feasting parasite.

      Ugh.

      Delete
  8. I forgive thee, former friend,
    and in this I wish thee well,
    thou findest God ere thy end
    and need not burn in hell.
    I forgive thee, o my spouse
    and beg forgiveness in return
    for times I was less man than mouse,
    and let dark passions burn.
    I forgive thee, scowling image
    seen in the mirror every day;
    thou didst thy best to fairly manage
    all the ills that came thy way.
    In forgiveness, I'm forgiven
    and hold my place among the living.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. 'I forgive thee, scowling image'

      This line will come back to me next time an unpleasant looking face reflects in my mirror.

      Delete
    2. Andrew’s poems need to be pu5 in a book. First time I coul$ understand poetry. LOL

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    3. Yep, I've told him the same thing.

      He had me at 'I forgive thee, scowling image'

      Delete
  9. Forgiving others, and ourselves, definitely opens to doors wide to healing and wholeness. I'm also glad, in reading your inspirational words here, Linda, that forgetting need not be a part of the forgiveness equation, if we turn those experiences into powerful positives for our lives going forward.
    Blessings, my friend!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, let's take the pressure off each other to somehow wave a magic wand and forget all the wrongs done us along the way.

      They do seem to fade in intensity over time ... and lose their power over us as we release them yet again to the Lord whenever they make their unnecessary appearance in our heads.

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  10. I think the majority of people including Christians have a hard time with forgiveness. Being able to pray for the person who has wounded you deeply and wishing them the best is most freeing. An unforgiving spirit keeps one in bondage to the one who hurt them. Realizing forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship can be restored to what it once was has been healing to me. This is an excellent post and I will pass it along. Thank you Linda!

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    1. I absolutely agree with your opening sentence, Pam. Why this is true I don't know because we have the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives who gives us 'everything for life and godliness.'

      Sadly, I think for some odd reason we tend to cherish the wrongs against us like it somehow makes us feel more powerful or pious or some such thing.

      Besides, forgiveness can be a hard road to follow if we've never seen it modeled for us.

      But Jesus did that for us, didn't He ...

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  11. Good post - a needed reminder that sometimes forgiveness needs to be done over and over again as Satan tells us how wronged we have been. He stirs the fire and we remember the hurt and pain we felt in the past and the old resentfulness rears its ugly head again.

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    1. I'm glad you're here, Marilyn. And you're so right, Satan stirs the fire in whatever ways he can.

      Here's to spotting his actions sooner rather than later ... and sending him packing back to hell where he belongs.

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  12. Thank you for 5he truth you share about forgiveness in this post. And I agree that forgiving ourselves is the hardest.

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    1. Agreed. And why is this so hard to let ourselves off the hook, to give ourselves grace?

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  13. Here I am - better late than never. I posted on FB. You have put forgiveness as such a plain and simple experience which we tend to labor more than need be. Extracting the pain is worse than forgiveness can follow. My experience has been God doing his work of forgiveness through me — His power, His idea, His freedom.

    When I discovered forgiveness is so freeing, I don’t ever want to hold onto to any pain from others. Wish others could forgive also but that is where reconciliation starts. You stated well the reconciliation is a whole other ball game.

    Awesome!

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    1. Thanks for sharing this with your friends and fans, Carol.

      And yes, forgiveness = freedom. And isn't that what we were yearning for all along ...

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