Thursday, November 28, 2013

The work of forgiveness 8

A look at the second of the items in the process of forgiveness I am using.
2. What specific behaviors by this person violated my expectations?
Early on I realized I couldn't just call a person to mind with only a general sense of what they had done, and then forgive them. Whenever I tried to do it that way, I later would remember some specific incidents and behaviors I hadn't earlier considered, but which were definitely part of the picture. Then I would feel like I really hadn't forgiven them because I had not forgiven them for those specific things.

The result was that I felt as though I had gotten nowhere and that they were still on my "still to be forgiven" pile.

Since general forgiving wasn't going to work for me, I realized that for each person I needed to make a list of specific things that had been done that needed forgiving.

How I compiled my lists

This takes some time; don't rush things. It may take several days or weeks of consideration for you to come up with a good list.

You should find a quiet space to draw up your list.

It helps tremendously to pray before, during and after the list making time. Ask God to show you the real truth of the matter. Ask him to help you be fair. Ask to see things in a new way—the way he wants you to see them. Ask to be shown which things are the most important, and which are more minor.

Stay as concrete as you can and focus on specific actions, incidents and behaviors. If these things seem to be part of a pattern, try to figure out what the pattern is. I found that at the end most of my lists consisted of patterns of behavior, and that individual incidents were just examples of those patterns.

Once you have what you feel is a fairly comprehensive list, allow yourself time to reflect and edit. I find I typically add a couple more things upon reflection, and also modify some of what I already have written down, clarifying, being more fair or more precise, seeing things in a different way, etc.

It is OK to cross things off the list that you realize are not a big deal. It is OK to suddenly realize something new and add it to the list. The point of making the list is to figure out the scope of what needs forgiving.

Once you have a settled list, it is time to move to the third step of the process.

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