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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiving’

One of my favorite topics!  I am reading a book called The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis.  It’s a fabulous book, I’m almost done, but I may actually re-read it which I NEVER do.  I have lots of things to share from it, but I have to find them because I keep reading this book in the bath where I can’t write down all of the wonderful things in it!  Today though I was reading the section on forgiveness, and as you probably know… I can’t pass up a chance to talk about forgiveness 🙂  I truly believe that without forgiveness we can never truly have emotional healing or peace.  So anyways, here are a few ideas I wanted to share. (all quotes are from the above mentioned book unless otherwise noted)

One must be strong to forgive, for forgiveness is a very positive force.

The sad thing about hate on the other hand, is what it does to the hater…. Not only does bitterness slop out on those around us and corrode our relationships, it also eats away at our own souls.

Isn’t that true, the person who is always most damaged by our anger, hatred, and failure to forgive is us.  In fact we can often damage ourselves with the consequences of not forgiving long past the time that the other person has moved on.

A story from the book:

A friend of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, once reminded her of an especially cruel thing that someone had done to her years before.  But Miss Barton seemed to not recall it.

“Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked.

“No, I distinctly remember forgetting it.”

I love this story.  She had clearly chosen to forgive and forget.  I don’t think forgetting is always an integral part of forgiving, at least not in the sense that many people think of, in fact I think in some cases forgetting might even be downright unhealthy.  Instead we need to not dwell on the hurts and anger, but move foward, making the choice to forgive.

Someone has said that we judge others for what they did and ourselves for what we inteded – we didn’t intend the error, or ithappened in a moment of stress, or we weren’t feeling right that day, or we’ll know better next time.  We tend to see ourselves not for our current behavior but for what we are striving to be, whereas we see others simply for their behavior…. To extend such understanding toward our intimates can do a great deal to build strong friendships.

I don’t know that most of us are that kind to ourselve either.  But wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if everyone could look at the intetion others had instead of how something might actually have come out?  I strive to do this, and it can be incredibly freeing.  Most of the time it is easy to see where someone is coming from, but sometimes I find myself with my jaw dropped trying to figure where on earth something came from… and what they were trying to say or mean.  Still, I think when everyone tries to think this way, it can be an incredible thing for everyone.

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As I was out working on my garden, and pondering life, I was thinking about anger and forgiving.  My experience has taught me that the only way to heal and move on from something is to forgive.  But how do you get to a place of forgiveness?  I’ve written several articles on the steps of forgiveness, and how to forgive things that seem unforgivable, and I still stand behind the things I’ve said there.  But I want to explore the concept that you need to get angry, grieve, feel the hurt that you received before you can forgive.  In essence, getting angry allows you to forgive.

Yeah, you heard me right.  We do this so often in our everyday lives that we don’t even recognize that we do it, but we can’t forgive if we don’t feel we’ve been injured.  Yet when the bigger things come up, and we need to forgive, we try to deny our anger and hurt and instead to miraculously “forgive” without completely acknowledging to ourselves that we were hurt.  This just doesn’t work.  If a friend hit you with a baseball bat accidentally, you wouldn’t try to convince yourself it didn’t hurt now, would you?  Emotions are the same way.  It does no good to refuse to acknowledge that you’ve been hurt.  You have, you may wish you hadn’t been, but it doesn’t mean that you were not.  Instead, we need to recognize that we’ve been hurt, get angry, grieve if necessary, and then we can choose to forgive.  Sometimes this process may last 2 minutes, but in some situations, it may take years.  However if you don’t let yourself feel the pain, I promise you, you won’t be able to forgive, and if you can’t forgive, the wound will never fully heal.

Although it helps to understand why someone did something that hurt us, sometimes that information is not available or is not helpful.  In the end, it is our own pain, sadness, that we must face in order to make the choice to move on.

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I found some great quotes on forgiveness, one of my absolute favorite topics (well one of the about 100 favorites, but it’s near the top 🙂 

Lewis B. Smedes – Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve (Haven’t read the book, just found these great quotes:

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. ~Lewis B. Smedes

“We attach our feelings to the moment when we were hurt, endowing it with immortality. And we let it assault us every time it comes to mind. It travels with us, sleeps with us, hovers over us while we make love, and broods over us while we die. Our hate does not even have the decency to die when those we hate die–for it is a parasite sucking OUR blood, not theirs. There is only one remedy for it. [forgiveness]

“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”

“…Forgiving is not having to understand. Understanding may come later, in fragments, an insight here and a glimpse there, after forgiving.”

“You can forgive someone almost anything. But you cannot tolerate everything…We don’t have to tolerate what people do just because we forgive them for doing it. Forgiving heals us personally. To tolerate everything only hurts us all in the long run.”

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.”

“If we say that monsters [people who do terrible evil] are beyond forgiving, we give them a power they should never have…they are given the power to keep their evil alive in the hearts of those who suffered most. We give them power to condemn their victims to live forever with the hurting memory of their painful pasts. We give the monsters the last word.”

All the years you have waited for them to “make it up to you” and all the energy you expended trying to make them change (or make them pay) kept the old wounds from healing and gave pain from the past free rein to shape and even damage your life. And still they may not have changed. Nothing you have done has made them change. Indeed, they may never change. Inner peace is found by changing yourself, not the people who hurt you. And you change yourself for yourself, for the joy, serenity, peace of mind, understanding, compassion, laughter, and bright future that you get.”

“Forgiving is an affair strictly between a victim and a victimizer. Everyone else should step aside…The worst wounds I ever felt were the ones people gave to my children. Wrong my kids, you wrong me. And my hurt qualifies me to forgive you. But only for the pain you caused me when you wounded them. My children alone are qualified to forgive you for what you did to them.”

“Not even God can make something fair out of what is intrinsically unfair. Only one thing can be done. Something must break through the crust of unfairness and create a chance for a new fairness. Only forgiveness can make the breakthrough.”

“I worry about fast forgivers. They tend to forgive quickly in order to avoid their pain. Or they forgive fast in order to get an advantage over the people they forgive. And their instant forgiving only makes things worse…People who have been wronged badly and wounded deeply should give themselves time and space before they forgive…There is a right moment to forgive. We cannot predict it in advance; we can only get ourselves ready for it when it arrives…Don’t do it quickly, but don’t wait too long…If we wait too long to forgive, our rage settles in and claims squatter’s rights to our souls.”

“Forgive a wife-slammer if you can. But you don’t have to live with him. Forgive a husband who is abusing your children if you can. But only after you kick him out of the house. And if you can’t get him out, get help. It’s available. In the meantime, don’t let him near the kids, and don’t let anyone tell you that if you forgive him it means you have to stay with him. [There’s an important difference between forgiving a person and tolerating their bad behavior.]”

“Forgiving does not usually happen at once. It is a process, sometimes a long one, especially when it comes to wounds gouged deep. And we must expect some lapses…some people seem to manage to finish off forgiving in one swoop of the heart. But when they do, you can bet they are forgiving flesh wounds. Deeper cuts take more time and can use a second coat.”

“Forgiveness has nothing to do with forgetting…A wounded person cannot–indeed, should not–think that a faded memory can provide an expiation of the past. To forgive, one must remember the past, put it into perspective, and move beyond it. Without remembrance, no wound can be transcended.”

“Forgiveness is a rebirth of hope, a reorganization of thought, and a reconstruction of dreams. Once forgiving begins, dreams can be rebuilt. When forgiving is complete, meaning has been extracted from the worst of experiences and used to create a new set of moral rules and a new interpretation of life’s events.”

“You can’t forgive what you refuse to remember, any more than you can seek treatment for a disease whose symptoms you have yet to notice.”  Carol Luebering – Finding A Way To Forgive (article, CareNotes)

” Forgiving is not something you do for someone else. It is not even something you do because you SHOULD, according to the standards of religious belief or human decency. Forgiving is something that you do for yourself. It is one way of becoming the person you were created to be–and fulfilling God’s dream of you is the only way to true wholeness and happiness. You NEED to forgive so that you can move forward with life. An unforgiven injury binds you to a time and place someone else has chosen; it holds you trapped in a past moment and in old feelings.”  Carol Luebering – Finding A Way To Forgive (article, CareNotes)

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A Quick Note:

I’ve said it many times, and I truly believe it.  Forgiveness is one of the most powerful tools we have.  It opens our hearts to healing without forgiving it is hard for us to move forward with our lives, to heal, and be healed.  Forgiving can only come when we are ready we can not be pushed or forced to forgive, and trying to force another person to forgive will not help them at all.  True forgiving is a gift to ourselves, a gift to God and a gift from God all at once.  Without forgiveness we are forever locked in the past.

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Forgiveness

I have to share. The next chapter in the book I’m reading is on forgviness. I haven’t gotten started on it yet, but I am very excited. This is my very, very favorite topic. I know first hand the incredible freedom and healing that comes from forgiving people, especially those people we least want to forgive and those we feel unable to forgive. Holding unforgiveness and grudges eats you up inside. Forgiving sets you free and let’s God heal your hurts. Here’s an awesome video that goes along with the book I’ve been reading:

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