FORGIVENESS, pt 3: "Proactive Forgiveness: Forgiving the "Unforgivable""
IN THE PRIOR INSTALLMENT, we posed the idea that when you forgive, "you are no longer judging that person for what they did or did not do". That prompted some very healthy debate (which is the idea), and was gratifying to see. Today we'll look at some myths surrounding forgiveness and hopefully answer a few questions - and spark more debate!
We advocate a process called “proactive forgiveness” when called on to forgive. Forgiveness simply means to declare that you legally release them from any sort of an emotional debt – real or implied; deserved or not. By doing so, you take yourself out of unlawful spiritual authority over them, and you quit judging them. The process is straightforward; practicing it is another thing entirely.
- Verbally, praying in the name of Jesus, pronounce that you release and forgive them from any expressed or implied emotional debt - Bless them in the name of Jesus - Never talk badly about them again. - Never talk badly about the situation again. - When you think about the situation, praise God that He got you through it and that He is healing you. Feel free to cry out about how badly you were hurt and how hard it is to work through the healing and restoration and recovery. Express your grief and sadness to Him. The point here is not to deny what has happened but to try and focus on your healing and not the incident or situation itself. - Whenever you think about the person in relation to the same situation again, pray that God will bless that individual. No doubt, you’ll have to do this many times!
DEALING WITH THE HURT AND THE ANGER: SOME SUGGESTED GRIEVING & CATHARSIS (“PURGE THE EMOTIONS”) APPROACHES:
TRY TO DE-PERSONALIZE THE SITUATION
Without question, the most difficult thing is to dispense with the hurt and the anger, Many times, the hardest thing to do is to take the first step. In a lot of cases, you, the offended, may be downright inconsolable. The hurt and anger can be absolutely overwhelming. This is by no means unusual. It is perfectly normal to express your deep pain, anger and overwhelming pain hat you feel. This is only human nature. However, try (if you can) to resist the temptation to personalize it. Obviously, this can take some time. It goes without saying that calling them names is something to try and avoid.
SUBSTITUTION: If at all possible, try to begin substituting pronouns like “he”, “she”, or “them” for their name. Again, try to avoid the name calling. Depending on the level of hurt and betrayal, this may take several days to a few weeks to reach this stage.
FIND SOMEONE TO TALK TO: Many times, you simply need a sympathetic individual who you can trust to just listen to you. Job’s 3 buddies were great until they opened up their mouths! You may need a professional, or a pastor or an elder. Maybe it’s that very spiritual person you know.
WINDSHIELD THERAPY/THE EMPTY CHAIR/THE PILLOW: No question about it, there’s those times you just have to “let ‘er rip”, and get it off your chest! That’s where your car windshield comes in handy. It won't yell back at you; it won’t judge; it won’t criticize you for using four letter words; and it won’t take offense. You car windshield may be the best counseling tool ever. Take a drive and find a nice quiet spot where no one can hear you and have at it. It is very effective at letting your anger out – at least temporarily. Expect to do this several times. The Empty Chair is a similar approach - just use a chair instead of going for a drive. If you can get a trusted friend to occupy the chair, that may prove beneficial as well. Another highly effective counseling tool is a pillow. You can throw a pillow and kick it,too - Lots of advantages, indeed.
WRITE A LETTER THAT YOU DON’T SEND Many have found it very helpful to write a letter that you don’t send. Write it all out - vent you anger and hurt! Once you're done; RIP IT UP AND THROW IT AWAY. Many find this approach very therapeutic, indeed!
CONFRONTATIONS are not recommended. However, some choose to go this route. Should you wish to consider this, seek counsel and talk with someone who you trust and has participated in these types of things.
Rev. Dr. N. Patrick Marica contributes incisive Christian commentary on this blog on a regular basis. He is the President here at ATS. He has been the Director of Godly Training Ministries since 1993. He received his D.Min from ATS in 2018 and he has his MA from Liberty University in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is the author of "The Walk Applied". He has been married to Kathy since 1985. They have 2 adult daughters and an extraordinary son-in-law.
Contact Dr. Marica at firstname.lastname@example.org