Category Archives: Forgiveness

The Blessings of Healing and Forgiveness

Today was the first really cool morning in several weeks. As I came home from my morning walk, I decided it was the perfect time to trim my three day lily plants – all the flower stalks were dead and the ends of the leaves were brown. I snipped the dead stalks with my rose cutters and trimmed the leaves quite drastically with my kitchen scissors. It was tedious work but it looked and felt great when I was done.

I find that tending my soul is a lot like tending a garden. This week, I’m coming to the end of processing a difficult social situation in which I was unfairly judged, then talked about, and finally the butt of some nonverbal rejection – all without my knowing what prompted it – hurtful in the extreme! I went through a series of reactions:

  1. Lord, was it me?  No. But it took a couple of weeks for me to believe it even though God took away my initial pain very quickly.
  2. Lord, how did this happen? I heard a voice in my head of the person and their original words that lit the flame of gossip.
  3. The Lord prompted me to share my experience discreetly with a few of my friends, without naming names. They had neither heard nor participated in the loose talk, and their support was quite healing.
  4. I felt a surge of confidence, and began looking people squarely in the eye.
  5. I met with our group’s leader. We came to a mutual understanding and a changed role for me.
  6. Then, for about a week, I felt righteous indignation and mentally said the words, You trashed my good name – I want it back! It felt very cleansing to acknowledge what happened and it’s effect on me, even if only privately.
  7. Monday, all of a sudden, it didn’t feel good to be indignant. I felt myself cross a line into bitterness and petty accusation, so I decided to create a more forgiving frame of mind. I doubt those involved realized the extent of what they did.
  8. Now I’m planning to initiate a visit with the two people who I know began this and deliver a calm “I Message” of how much this hurt me and our whole group. I’ll urge them to repent and get right with the Lord, then assure them of my well wishes. I’ll practice the wording and feelings of charity so I can speak with the right spirit.

It was painful weeding out my budding feelings of resentment and growing animosity but the peace that followed was worth it. Then I remembered The Nine Steps of Forgiveness and Healing From Abuse from my files:

  1. Accept reality, come out of denial, acknowledge and condemn sin [but not the sinner]. BLESSING: A fullness of joy
  2. Protect yourself from further harm. [You have a stewardship to care for yourself.] BLESSING: Justice and safety
  3. Pray for your offender, with specifics.
    BLESSING: Your heart is softened.
  4. Honest grief over loss and pain.
    BLESSING: Freedom to receive real healing [not just stuffed feelings]
  5. Resist bitterness and animosity.
    BLESSING: Humility
  6. Be accountable for your own reaction to abuse.
    BLESSING: Control and personal power
  7. Receive the Atonement of Christ, face our own weakness and give it to Him.
    BLESSING: Your burden is lifted.
  8. Let go of anger, pain, blame and shame/guilt.
    BLESSING: Restoration of personal dignity
  9. Offer compassion and understanding [this is not approval of abuse].
    BLESSING: Empowerment, fullness of joy (full circle back to Step 1)

My process didn’t follow this sequence in order, but I’ve covered the bases and am working on the final steps. This week, I looked Step 7 squarely in the eye and didn’t like how I was feeling. It wasn’t worthy of a Christian, so I told my ego to “take a hike”! I’m preparing to tackle Step 9 and am asking the Lord to give me the words, the compassion, and the confidence to undertake this in the proper spirit.

I think forgiveness is one of the hardest challenges we face, but it’s also one of the most liberating. It sets us free from the past, and it also sets those who hurt us free – to change or not. Then it’s between them and their maker, not between them and us!

If you’re feeling burdened by the past, please let the Master Healer help release you.

Peace at the Heart of the Rose Courtesy

Peace at the Heart of the Rose
Courtesy Image 270729

Tough Decisions

Throughout my life, I’ve faced some complicated social situations that have defied simple answers. I’ve learned the hard way that when these challenges come along, the quickest way through them is to allow them to be lessons, not punishments. This takes me to my knees sooner rather than later. Why did it take me this long to understand? Especially when God’s promised rewards are so great and repeated so often in scripture.

We all know that Christianity and other religions counsel us to be charitable and forgiving, and I won’t argue with that. But sometimes that isn’t the whole story. You can forgive someone who repeatedly wounds your feelings, or worse, but then you have to decide how to relate to them in the future. Do we just lie down and let the hurtful behavior continue? Do we let that person hurt your family and friends? Does a relationship bring out the worst in ourselves, and what do we do about that? I propose that there aren’t easy answers nor rules to follow here.

In my church, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost when we’re baptized so that we can receive personal, divine guidance for situations that are too complicated for simple rules. A gospel teacher once said, “We have only 10 Commandments for a reason – the rest of the time, we need God’s guidance coupled with our own efforts.”

In the 1990s, I was on the HOA Board of the condominium building where I lived, and we faced some sticky problems relating to each other and the owners at large. Another board member said something I’ve never forgotten:  “A relationship is a lot like being inside a large circle of rope on the ground; sometimes problems can’t be solved, so you just need to step out of the circle – just STEP OUT.” Wow, that seemed harsh at first, especially to someone like myself who can overdo the “mothering the whole world” mentality. But we can’t take care of everyone, we can’t make every relationship work (“it takes two to tango”), and we don’t have unlimited emotional and physical energy to invest without robbing other areas of our lives where we can be effective. Coupled with divine confirmation, I have actually found this to be both liberating and a quicker path to reconnection, should that be possible.

None of this should discount the very real times when we need to stick it out in a long-term relationship with serious challenges: a family member with an addiction, an ongoing health problem, or a rebellious child – to name just a few. Sorting out whether a situation calls for us to stay or to go is tricky and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. As Dr. Phil repeatedly advises, in a marriage with children, you have to earn your way out: prayer, counseling, legal advice, more prayer, etc.

I like the classic book, The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner that goes into far greater detail on gracefully stepping away or drawing closer. Don’t we ultimately want to dance through life – riding rhythms of energy, creativity, love and service – and “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). A final remembered quote: We are constantly deciding whether to love or pass unswervingly by.

The world doesn’t acknowledge God much anymore, especially not in a positive way – how we miss out!  From Proverbs 3:5-6, 11-12:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. . .
My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.

Getting spiritual answers is like finding lily of the valley blooms in my grandmother’s garden as a child. They were hiding under the greenery and I had to push it aside to find them, a lot like pushing aside our daily busyness to find God. More and more, I find it’s worth the trouble to pray, then wait for inspiration.

Lily of the Valley Courtesy

Lily of the Valley