Monday, July 28, 2014

What Forgiveness Looks Like -- Part 1

Forgiveness -- has been on my mind for over a year now.

Between people. Man to man.

Years ago, I had already forgiven everyone I could ever think of that I might should.

But, I could still see the effects of bitterness in my life. Which had me worried and confused...

After some more forgiving, I felt downright unsatisfied. Am I forgiving "the right way"?

Talking to people did not really help because they were saying abstract things. And, I realized that was it -- I wanted something tangible. Something to do.

But, forgiveness is a matter of the heart, unlike taking out the trash. I realize the spiritual action, but I wanted an accompanying physical action.

So, I googled 'steps to forgiveness' and up popped millions. After reading several, I came across one, 13 Steps to Forgiving the Unforgivable by the famous Dr. Charles Stanley, and I knew right away. Yes -- THIS is exactly what I'm looking for! 

[I used my friend's criteria to know who I needed to forgive: If you cannot smile at someone freely and broadly... Yeah, I have a few strained smiles.]

A few weeks ago, I set aside a time to do it when I was alone, unhindered, and not rushed, because it was not a 2-minute thing. But, man! Talk about cathartic and freeing! Jesus was THERE with me, bringing beauty out of ashes :)

But, then, the unexpected. The tricky part. Things kept happening, words that felt like little daggers, to me. Ahhhhhh, I want to stay in this free-flowing forgiveness! No more resentment building up towards anyone! And, I would have to pause (in my mind) and forgive right then and there. And, thus, I learned that it is hard work to stay in this forgiveness mode. It is constant or frequent, not a one-time thing. Yet, it is way, WAY worth it!

And Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount, "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14)

Yep, right away. No more build up. No more bitterness.

{Part 2}