Forgiving is rediscovering the shining path of peace that at first you thought others took away when they betrayed you.
Founder, The Garden of Thoughts
Probably the three most difficult words that can be uttered in human speech are the words…. I Forgive You! Now they are probably easier spoken when they are directed at another person but even when the person you are forgiving is yourself, it is a must for the preservation of our mental and emotional health. To forgive does not mean to forget but rather, provides a release of the burdens that weigh so heavily on your heart, that to move forward with your life is so difficult it feels a bit like wading through a swimming pool filled with molasses. To forgive does not remove responsibility for the commission of a hurtful act, nor does it stop the pain or grief felt when we are hurt. Rather, forgiveness is our promise to another or to ourselves that we are giving up our feeling of resentment toward or the desire to punish or lash out at the offending party. Forgiveness allows us to heal and allows the person being forgiven the power to effect positive change.
I decided to look at some of the resources available to see if there is a process we can utilize to help us as we work to forgive. Most articles I read listed from between 7 and 13 steps in the process to forgive. However, I found some common threads that seemed to appear over and over again in my readings and I realized that there are really just 4 steps needed as we work through the process to learn to forgive:
- Acknowledge pain and hurt – Verbalize to someone, let your emotions out, and don’t apologize for them.
- Relive and reflect – Try to understand what part of the hurt you feel is the piece primarily causing you to remain angry or resentful.
- Work it out – Concentrate on getting rid of the anger that you are harboring. For some people, praying and mediating can help. Think of the blessings that exist in your life and acknowledge that ridding yourself of those negative burdens benefits everyone in your life.
- Renounce the anger – Understand that forgiving is not forgetting and be prepared for the possibility that your anger can come back. Make a plan for working through those setbacks.
Be a catalyst to others having difficulty with forgiveness. Share the things you’ve learned through your own experiences and be willing to teach others the skill of forgiveness. But most importantly, be empathetic. Often the ability to reach the point when forgiveness can occur is simply having a sympathetic shoulder to lean on in times of tribulation.
“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
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