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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Tips on Tuesday: Forgiveness

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness. I'm wondering what it means to forgive and how that would look in life. As you know, what I'm thinking about often appears here. So you have the privilege (whether you wanted it or not) of peeking into my brain to see my thoughts.

I did some searching and found a lot of articles online related to forgiveness and your health. It appears that there is a link between the quality of your health and the amount of unforgivness you have. If you're holding a grudge or refusing to forgive, it can affect your health in a negative way. The Mayo Clinic had an interesting article found here that talks about forgiveness and your health.

Some of the things I've seen, read, experienced, lived in my life are seen as obstacles to forgiving. What if the person who wronged you is deceased? Forgive them anyway--it can't hurt, could only help. My opinion is the best way to do so is to speak your forgiveness out loud while picturing them or the grievance. I firmly believe it is easier for you to truly forgive if you use your mouth to confess that forgiveness.

If someone won't speak to you, forgive them out loud and consider writing them to forgive them. This could include incarcerated individuals or estranged family or friends. If you don't know how to reach them via mail, speak it, write it and toss it. Believe that the words you spoke and wrote will reach that person somehow. I think the Holy Spirit does a lot more of this work than we give him credit for doing.

Forgiving may not always lead to reconciliation, but in the act of forgiving, you release the hold the other person has on you. While you might argue they have no hold--think about it, they do. You are allowing them power to hold influence on your feelings, mood and attitudes. If bitterness or a grudge grows out of proportion, it can color every aspect of your day.

Our pastor likes to look up words in the Noah Webster Dictionary of 1828. I looked up Forgive and found:
1. To pardon; to remit, as an offense or debt; to overlook an offense, and treat the offender as not guilty. The original and proper phrase is to forgive the offense, to send it away, to reject it, that is, not to impute it, [put it to] the offender. But by an easy transition, we also use the phrase, to forgive the person offending.
     Forgive us our debts.
     If we forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. Matt. 6.
     As savages never forget a favor, so they never forgive an injury.
It is to be noted that pardon, like forgive, may be followed by the name or person, and by the offense; but remit can be followed by the offense only. We forgive or pardon the man, but we do not remit him.
2. To remit as a debt, fine or penalty.
Right below that, it shows Forgiveness:
1. The act of forgiving; the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty. The forgiveness of enemies is a christian duty.

2. The pardon or remission of an offense or crime; as the forgiveness of sin or of injuries.
3. Disposition to pardon; willingness to forgive.
     And mild forgiveness intercede to stop the coming blow.
4. Remission of a debt, fine or penalty.
Finally, this page ends with Forgiver:
One who pardons or remits.
Finally, as you walk through forgiveness, remember it's a process. It's also a physical act of doing something (forgiving). The most poignant moment of forgiveness came from a speaker I heard 18 years ago. I remember her like it was just this morning. She suffered such things in her youth that I can't begin to post here. I keep a PG site and can't say those events. Suffice it to say she suffered more physical, sexual, emotional and any other kind of abuse you could imagine from her parents. The horror of some of what she went through remains with me--and she hardly shared what had gone on. You could see it in her face as the sheer terror of remembering--and she was an adult in her late 30's. But she explained to continue living, she had to decide to move on and leave the past in the past. She imagined putting her past hurts and trauma into a suitcase and she put that suitcase down...looked at it for a minute...and walked away. She made a decision to leave the baggage of the past in the past and not pick it up to carry it again.

In the act of her setting down her imaginary luggage and walking away, she set herself free. That simple act has helped me to free myself from guilt, grudges, icky stuff from the past. Put it down and walk away. Acknowledge that it happened, but no longer let it be on you, holding you down.

And leave it there. It's similar to the scripture 1 Peter 5:7 where we are told to, "cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." Once you cast your cares or drop your luggage, stop trying to pick it up. Leave it alone and continue to bathe the situation with prayer.

Let's lighten our load and begin forgiving today.

1 comment:

Mary Reeves said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been struggling for several months with unforgiveness toward a former co-worker. I need to just let it go and walk away. She is no longer a part of my life and can't hurt me anymore if I don't let her.

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