Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Forgiveness - How Love Wins (part 5 of 5)

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.”  
Reinhold Niebuhr

In the world you and I live in, there are very, very, very few things that can be stated with absolute certainty; but this is one of them; as long as we live on this side of Heaven we will face conflict.  If you are most of us who dwell on this planet that means that you will be on the “losing side” of that conflict more often than you are on the “winning side”.  As a result you will be susceptible to feelings of anger, anxiety and depression; you will suffer broken relationships, rejections, manipulation and abandonment…. 

Conflict is inevitable, and it hurts, sometimes it hurts so deeply that it rips at your very soul, however in spite of that you were made to have options, you were made to have the ability to choose, while you can not chose to opt out of the trespasses that will be committed against you, you can choose what happens inside you. 

That is what this short series has been about - “choices”; for once you realize that you have options available to you, it is then possible for you to choose which course you want to follow.  Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings hope.
I am not so naive to presume that by just telling a person that they need to forgive that anything has actually been accomplished, more often than not, such a statement causes more stress and does more harm than good.  Why?  Because while you may have been taught right from wrong, good from evil, that you were to be forgiving, and fair while you were a child; and while you may have had an awkward and brief conversation about sex; truthfully how many of us when were teenagers did a parent, counselor, trusted friend, guide, sit down with you and say “Let’s have a discussion about your emotions, the meaning and direction of them, how you deal with adversity and how you are going to deal with the inevitable heartbreaks and conflicts of your life.”   You were never taught HOW to forgive; and the church in America which preaches forgiveness, offers no guidance whatsoever, other then to tell you that you must forgive to be forgiven.  Talk about pressure. 

I am going to tell you truthfully and straight up that to find the hope that you once possessed YOU MUST FORGIVE; however I will also acknowledge that it took me years worth of work to forgive those who betrayed, slandered, lied, stole from and abandoned me.  Forgiveness does not happen overnight. But it can happen, if you choose to seek it.  Time does not heal all wounds, it simply covers them up under a layer of dirt, you can not will forgiveness into existence, you can not pray it into existence, you must work at it, and it will be the hardest work you will ever undertake.  If you ever want to have peace and hope, it is what is necessary.  

While I have spent the last five posts writing about forgiveness and why you need to forgive, what I have really been doing is leading you to the next step.  Doing it.  To help you in that endeavor I will turn my attention to sharing with you what I have learned in my struggle to forgive, not why, but HOW - Twelve Imperfect Steps to Forgiveness (more or less).

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