yesterday’s post was 10 things you are NOT doing when you forgive. today, i want to explore what i feel is the important next step- what forgiveness is and how it benefits your life.
forgiveness is a powerful life skill within your grasp. using this tool can help the heart in its search for wholeness.
When you forgive, you are:
- choosing a healthy coping strategy. there are two coping strategies: keep cycling in the pain or move forward. one is a healthy strategy, the other is dysfunctional. one leads to healing and growth, the other can lead to “post traumatic stress”.
- practicing true love. understanding the importance of love to all human beings helps prepare the ground of the heart for sowing the seed of forgiveness. in the initial stages of forgiveness, this might make you as mad as a hatter. it’s still true. living a life motivated by compassion is very powerful. i may hate the offense but compassion will open my eyes to the pain within the offender’s heart that directed his/her behaviour.
- offering a debt-free status. have you ever had a bill paid for you or on your behalf? have you ever handed a person in need the money to pay off a bill they were struggling with? do you remember what that felt like? i have and i do. no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to undo the offense. it’s been done. when you forgive, you are not excusing the offense. you are acknowledging the inability to ever undo, compensate, or change what was done. clinging to unforgiveness will never bring my fiance who (was killed by a drunken driver) back to me. that man will never be able to pay what is owed. he paid legal consequences but he has no ability to settle the score in my heart. i can release the debt so that i can go on living.
- giving your heart a gift. the Aramaic meaning for the word forgive is “untie”. when you forgive -you untie yourself from the effects of the offense. you grab a “get out jail free card” and you set your heart free. you step out of the prison of stress, frustrations, anger, bitterness, torment, and unhappiness.
- taking control of your own life. while you may not have had a choice when the offense occurred, you do have a choice in what happens next! your heart can become wounded with no action on your part. you can take action -take control of your life by using a powerful tool called choice.
- laying down your judge’s gavel. our heart naturally cries for justice. however, lay your gavel down and leave ultimate justice to the One who wears the judge’s cloak. it’s been said -what goes around comes around~karma bites~you reap what you sow~…you may have a differing philosophy than i do. we all recognize that in the end, we never really get by with anything…there is a principle at work in life. i, personally, believe it is an unchangeable, spiritual principle of reaping and sowing. i don’t believe it can be ignored and more than the law of gravity can be. it relieves me from the role of judge that i was not built to take on.
- exchanging your weapons for useful tools. revenge is a weapon. when we lift our weapon of revenge, we become willing to make great sacrifices to our lives. we are willing to exchange useful solutions for a consuming drive for recompense that is surrounded by hatred, anger, and scheming. i choose to pursue a better way of living…not a destructive way of living.
- guarding your life values. i want to be free to live my life plan. one of my core values is to live practicing being useful, helpful and kind to one another, tender-hearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely]…(-Paul to the Ephesians). i can not be true to this life value if i am allowing my heart to be weighted down with anger, resentment, revenge, etc. i guard my values and standards and refuse to take on any attributes that do not line up…i have to be me…and forgiving allows me to be the best me i can be!
- offering mercy. i am convinced that hurting people-hurt people. wounded, broken hearts drive people to behaviors that they would never have imagined. i have been shocked at some of my behavior patterns following devastating circumstances. my daughter had an abusive boyfriend one time~following many attempts to help the young man and behaviors worsening, i lashed out in a way that i must admit embarrasses me to recall today. when i took time to objectively think about what he had been through in his life, i changed my approach dramatically. i was able to show mercy while outlining healthy boundaries for our family’s safety. interestingly enough, his behavior toward me changed. when he spoke to me, he used respectful words. my offer of mercy did not change his behavior overall but when he was in my presence and with my child, he showed restraint. i impacted my environment.
- activating a powerful spiritual law. you don’t have to study nature for very long before it becomes quite evident how the laws of nature work. i can not defy gravity with out some strict boundaries in place for my own well-being. airplanes crash all the time because simple rules have not been followed. i am familiar with governmental laws. whether i agree or not with tax laws, i am required to pay taxes unless i want to pay the penalty. there is a powerful spiritual law called the law of forgiveness. i can ignore it. swear up and down i don’t believe it exists…yet, when i refuse to apply it to my heart…the consequences are devastating. on the other side of that, if i live within its boundaries, there is safety, wholeness, happiness and well-being available to me.