Thursday, February 02, 2012

FINDING FREEDOM IN FORGIVING



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

As a child, I always heard the phrase, “Forgive and Forget.” As an adult, I learned that forgetting is physically impossible. Our brains are not designed to forget. So what do we do? Live in the prison of our bitterness and anger? Draw others into our prison so they too can suffer?
No. Even though our human design makes it impossible to forget, forgiveness is possible. It involves our Mind – how we think about the offense, our Will – the choice we make, and our Emotion – controlling our reaction.
Most of us have been offended, cheated, treated unfairly, rejected, abandoned. Some of us have been heinously abused and feel the right to hold our attacker in un-forgiveness and hate.
For the next few posts we will explore forgiveness. Today I want to say what it is and what it is not.
Forgiveness is releasing the offense. Holding on to anger and bitterness is like squeezing a fist full of stinging nettles. It hurts and yet we hang on. We look at our hand and cry because it hurts and we hate it, but still we refuse to open our hand and throw them from us. But in order to heal, we must. Even after we throw the offenses (nettles) away, our hand still has wounds, it still bleeds, but the process of healing can now begin. 
Forgiveness is not saying the offense was justified! If someone has hurt you, to forgive the person is not giving him or her a pass. By forgiving we are not admitting that person had the right to hurt us. We are not saying it was okay.
To release an offense is to release ourselves from that person, from our own personal prison, and to grow. It will give us perspective and empower us to help others.

Are you holding onto stinging nettles? Will you let today be the beginning of your healing?   

5 comments:

Denton Gay said...

Words of wisdom, Linda. Naturally, I agree, but you touch upon a delicate point I've been curious about. Can you truly forgive someone who does not want to be forgiven? I understand you do yourself a favor by releasing the offense. Is there a distinction between the two?

By the way, some in my dysfunctional family use forgiveness in place of apology. Some time after a rift, I heard one aunt tell another "I forgive you" in spite of the fact no apology had been offered. I couldn't help but laugh.

Linda C. Apple said...

To answer your question, Denny, even if the person doesn't want forgiveness, as you say, we release ourselves. The offending person must deal with his or her own "prison." We cannot possibly know their heart.

You are right about using the word forgive in place of an apology. That is like using a hammer to cut down a tree. We are doing something, but accomplishing nothing and looking foolish in the process!

Palooski65 said...

I think forgiveness is one of the most difficult disciplines that God entrusted to us. I find it easier to forgive a transgression against myself than my children (thereby hurting me). A dear friend told me that I should pray that God would help me "want" to forgive an ex-son-in-law for the horrible treatment he meted to my daughter during their divorce. I'm soooooo onery--I still can't get past praying for a "dark alley" to meet him in! :-)

Linda C. Apple said...

Yes, I had 2 sons-in-law that were abusive. As I will write later, it is a process. And sometimes that process is a long one.

Linda O'Connell said...

Oh my, we human beings have shared experiences, and that is why posts like yours matter, Linda. I will be sharing this with someone in our family.