Some Steps To Forgiveness
Yesterday I shared the importance of always being able to move toward forgiveness as a more excellent way of living and moving in the world.
I also shared that because we have been forgiven (repeatedly) by God, we are in turn called to share that same mercy to others--even to those who continue to wound us.
Today I'd like to share some steps that you can take in order to make forgiveness a reality. I originally discovered the basic idea for this from the work of Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., and I modified it a bit.
First, don't let the offense come between you any longer. Whatever has happened is in the past, and it needs to stay there. It has no place in your present. The truth is, you may not ever laugh with this person again... or they may never be a part of your life going forward, but it's done.
Second, make a promise to yourself not to use the incident against them. Resist the urge to constantly rehash the incident with friends, or to bring it up in public for the purpose of making the other person look bad. Bury the hatchet (even though the other person may never know it) without digging it up again.
Finally, quit nursing the memory of it. Cornelius Plantinga likens this to your tongue constantly going to a sore place in your mouth. You feel like you can't stop, but if you don't--it's not going to heal. There are healthy ways to work out your hurts, but holding on to them irrationally is not one of them.
Keep in mind, forgiving someone who repeatedly wounded, harmed or abused you is not the same as continuing a relationship with them.
Some people are so toxic that to maintain a relationship with them would be harmful to you. But you can forgive them and set yourself free from the hold they might have on you. Forgiveness can be a powerful and radical act of liberation from a toxic relationship.
May you find the strength to forgive today---as you have been forgiven. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.