Sunday, November 24, 2013

The work of forgiveness 4

One of the difficulties in forgiving is how to go about it. I learned a long time ago that forgiveness has nothing to do with excusing the behavior, pretending it did not happen or that it did not hurt. The painful behavior happened. It was wrong. Forgiveness is not forgetting. Forgiveness does not give a pass to the behavior.

Nor does forgiveness equal reconciliation. Forgiveness can happen without contacting the offender. It does not mean you need to restore a relationship with them. It is in large part about not allowing the behavior of the person to continue to dominate and consume your life in the future. It is a gift you give yourself, that allows you to move on with scars, rather than open wounds.

Because I had a number of people and situations to forgive, I realized I needed a multi-step process to help me with forgiveness this time around. I needed to forgive each individual for only the behaviors they produced, I needed to be as thorough as I could, and I wanted to be as fair as possible. Here is what I came up with, which so far is working for me. I will examine each step in the process in some detail in future posts.

A forgiveness process

1. What do I expect from a person with this kind of relationship to me? (My expectations of a co-worker, for instance, are different from what I expect from family.)

2. What specific behaviors by this person violated my expectations?

3. What was it about these behaviors that made me angry or hurt?

4. Bring steps 1-3 before the Lord, resting in him to help me forgive and gain insight into the person and situation

5. Reflect on what I am learning, come up with new perspectives, continue to an attitude of forgiveness, and realize there may or may not be an actual moment when I feel the work is complete. It may be more of a continuum where I gradually come to feel more forgiving than I had before.

6. Have some clarity about what the forgiveness will look like in this case. I may realize forgiving one person looks different from forgiving another.

1 comment:

LeAnn28 said...

Thanks for posting this process that you are using. I am finding that I have not yet begun to forgive many that I need to but I had no idea where to begin. This is helpful.