The Process of Forgiveness

Hello friends, you know everyone processes life at their own pace. Depending on the severity of the injury, sometimes forgiveness will take longer when one has experienced significant trauma. I tend to worry when someone forgives too quickly because it might indicate they are avoiding pain or trying to get an advantage over the person who wronged them. This only makes matters worse. Healthy individuals will always confront what concerns them.

Many people think that “confrontation” means to fight, or argue – as it is often associated with those words. However in Latin, the term “confront” actually means “to turn towards” which means “to face.”  It means that you embrace what is bothering you instead of running from it. The people who face  their issues and deal with them have a much higher likelihood of learning, growing, and deepening their walk with Christ. This is how personal and spiritual transformation happens.

The Huffington post reports that  Narcissism has doubled within the last 30 years and continues to rise with no sign of stopping.  Research by Dr. Jean Twenge, Author of “Generation Me” shows that values of giving, altruism and being other-focused continues to decline affecting attitudes within the workplace.

This is the polar opposite of what Christ commands of us. In Matthew 22: 34-40, Jesus was questioned by a so called “expert” of the law, a Pharisee. Testing Jesus he said, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

If you truly want to love and want your relationships to count, don’t continually connect with people making friends, using them for your own gratification and then dropping them when they no longer serve you a purpose. Get in there for the long haul, commit to the relationship and get involved in the process.  The best relationships are those with a heart to heart attachment that goes beyond knowing about someone to actually knowing that person. You are not really attached until your heart is involved. One of the best things that loving like Jesus does is it connects you with other people.images

When you’ve been wounded deeply you need to give yourself time and space to process what’s happened. Forgiveness will not occur overnight, nor should it. Here are some steps to go through before you even begin to forgive and heal your shattered heart:

1. Think:  Come to as much clarity as you can on what actually happened. Take time to focus and meditate on God’s word.

2. Evaluate: Was it an accident? A misunderstanding? Or did the person know what they were doing? Was this a lapse in judgement or does this person have a history or pattern showing this behavior?  A persons history will always speak loudly to their character. Behavior never lies.

3. Talk: Consult with a friend or counselor; get the help that the smartest of us need after you’ve been wounded. A wise confidant or counselor will always seek the word of God, and their counsel will never contradict it but always mirror what God says.

4. Feel: Take time to be alone with yourself, without TV, tennis, chocolates, ipad, computer, smartphone (gasp!) so that you can be in touch with how you feel. Feelings can sometimes get a bad rap and be a bit messy, but they are truly wonderful things. God created us to feel – to love, to be known, to have empathy, to grieve, and to connect at our deepest parts. Without feelings life would be pretty dull – kind of like black and white T.V. (zzzzz….)

5. Pray:  Forgiving can sometimes be difficult especially when the one who wounded you claims to be a believer. However here is a chance to be honest with God. Tell him how much it hurts. Tell Him of your feelings of shock, your anger at the hypocrisy, lying and betrayal. Tell Him everything…believe me, He knows. And friends… so do others. Those who are in  the word and who know  and live the word  are not blind. They see. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

Can you forgive the intolerable?  Yes. Victor Frankl and Corrie Ten Boon are two dear souls to come to mind who God has used in a mighty way. They endured immense suffering, tragedy and pain, yet they chose to forgive those who harmed them and as a result, God used them to bless the lives of millions of people around the world. Their stories continue to touch and minister to others in a mighty way.

In the gospel, God covers our sin with the blood that Jesus shed on the cross so he won’t see our sin. Then again he washes with the blood of the Lamb so that he can see the real us beneath our stains and can focus on the persons he made us and is remaking us to be. This is why “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22) In short, he covers up the wrong we did so that he can rediscover the persons we are. “Yet he, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them” (Ps. 78:38).

Friends, the world will tell you to get even – but  let me ask you is that person worth it? No! Giving up vengeance is a big part of divine forgiveness.

The flagship word of the gospel is grace. May you choose to live and give in grace, as it has been given to you!


Dr. Christy


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