Doing forgiveness is more difficult than talking about it. Full stop.
And yet, it’s one of the only cause and affect activities Jesus talks about, based on Matt 6:14. This is where Jesus says that if we forgive others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us. And Lord knows that I needs heaps of forgiveness! I suspect you might need alot of forgiveness as well 🙂
So what does it look like when we don’t forgive? Here are a few things for your consideration. When we don’t forgive, we:
nurse and rehearse the offense / wound in our thoughts & other people who will sympathize with our pain
look for opportunities to lash out or pay back the hurt
refuse to let the person “off the hook” or recognize and accept God’s grace for them
At the same time, when we forgive it doesn’t mean that we:
position ourself to get repeatedly hurt
excuse, dismiss or ignore the hurtful behavior
continually bring up the offense with the person who was hurtful
Even though forgiveness can be tricky, we need to be forgiving people and we need to keep our forgiveness fresh!
I was in a parking lot today and watched the drivers from two cars get in a honking battle. They concluded their exchanges with middle fingers, yelling and mean looks. I would suspect that perhaps these drivers have different sides to their personalities, such that they don’t go through their lives everyday with expletives, middle fingers and combative behaviors.
Just because someone is hostile or cranky with us doesn’t mean that we have to repay the same acrimony. Indeed, such moments are opportunities to do a quick heart check on ourselves and choose better. Furthermore, we can go the extra mile & look for constructive ways to bring out the best in people. Here are some suggestions for your consideration:
encouragement, gratitude and polite words make a comfortable runway for others to be gracious
a soft answer turns away wrath – Prov 15;1
forgiveness is a decision to reflect God’s DNA in us, since we are liberally forgiven even more than we realize
what a person “deserves” is best left in God’s hands, since we are commanded by Jesus not to judge in Matt 7:1
Let’s endeavor to bring out the best throughout our daily exchanges!
“I am Joseph, your brother.” I’ve been reading the story of Joseph in the last part of Genesis & I’m always astounded by the events that led up to these words. There are so many ways this story could’ve taken a bad turn.
Joseph could’ve let bitterness settle into his heart & he could’ve cruelly repaid his brothers for their malevolence.
Joseph’s dad could’ve died before learning that his son was alive & highly successful.
Joseph’s brothers could’ve continued to be the jerks they were with him when they sold him into slavery.
But none of these things happened & when Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers, he was fully committed to keeping his family alive & healthy, redeeming his family in a time of famine & desolation.
Let’s follow Joseph’s example in our daily living & relationships – committed to being agents of redemption, even when others may not recognize the redemption.
Do you ever say things & then you have to do them? This morning, I posted on FB something about being quick to forgive & slow to judge. Sure enough, I had an opportunity to practice those words not too long after I posted that. Blech.
I wonder if the Holy Spirit doesn’t tell us stuff that’s going to happen before hand, so that when it happens our attitudes and thoughts are ready to have the Fruit of the Spirit operational, rather than the works of the flesh. Let’s make it our goal to stay
Is it possible to be overprotective? Of course. But let’s think of this in broader terms than just raising children, border & immigrant concerns, your reputation, financial investments, etc.
Heres a really important place to think about being overprotective: your heart.
This is what happens to all of us, we get hurt, disappointed, discouraged or disillusioned so we decide to avoid that pain & shield / protect our hearts. In some ways this strategy is functional, but there’s a downside. When we shield / protect our hearts, we begin to compromise our ability to have close relationships & the worst place we can do this is with Jesus.
We must believe with unwavering confidence that Jesus loves us, has a good future for us & is both wise & strong enough to bail us out of any & all misfortunes.
Let’s never protect our hearts from an increasingly intimate relationship with Jesus 🙂
In our modern world, outage is common & I think even expected sometimes. It seems like we can get massively incensed at almost anything: driving infractions, mistakes on paychecks or bills, government shortfalls, moral failures in Christian leaders, etc
But here’s something to consider: if sin is the common human experience, why do we allow ourselves to be outraged when people sin or make mistakes? Wouldn’t we be more constructive to celebrate the moments when humans don’t behave sinfully? What about when a driver makes space for you instead of cutting you off? That’s noteworthy! What about when a government does something positive that exceeds your expectations? This might not be often, but that’s exactly why we should celebrate it! And when a Christian leader has a moral failure, let’s not be so much outraged as we should pray for them & have sincere compassion because we identify with our own shortfalls.
Let’s aim for less outrage & more celebration 🙂
There’s enough content to talk about offenses for endless years and I’m sure I couldeasily describe various situations & people who have offended us. Seems to me that being offended isn’t as much an issue as getting over an offense. Here are some ideas that might help:
Quit thinking about ways to get even or pay them back – the revenge thing lays squarely in God’s portfolio
Stop talking about it – prayer groups, venting & rehearsing merely fester the wound rather closing it to infection & poison
Pray for the person who offended you – private prayers that God would help you to forgive & that God would bless the offending person seem to be healing balm
Decide to be a proficient forgiver more than a bitter hater
Forgiveness seems to get lots of approval, affirmation & acknowledgement. It’s generally held that we need to forgive & that’s a good thing. The tricky part of forgiveness isn’t the theory or “ought to” part but the actual implementing & “practice”. Let’s keep in mind that we should be forgiving & then consider a few thoughts:
*being proficient with forgiveness requires practice
*theres no lasting close relationship that doesn’t have some forgiveness worked through the fiber of the intimacy
*forgiveness can be a journey – consider Joseph’s behavior with his brothers who sold him into slavery
*constructive communication can be a helpful ingredient in the forgiveness process
*sometimes forgiveness happens one decision & even one thought at a time
*forgiveness is far better than poison, bitterness & isolation that come from unforgiveness.
A few of my kids went to school this morning after a heated conversation. Both had tears in their eyes & it rips me up as their mom to see this tension and strife. Which makes me wonder how God “feels” when we are yucky with each other. The truth is that any relationship worth it’s weight will have to work through conflict. So here are a few pointers to help with this challenge:
benefit of the doubt: assume the best rather than blame the worst
double standard: be mindful that you don’t just the other person by actions but ourselves by intentions
breathing space: sometimes a “cool down” can bring some clarity and options that aren’t available when we are in the heat of a conflict
be generous: seek to understand before being understood
forgive well: practice makes perfect
conclusion: sometimes the best outcome is to agree to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂
“Eveybody likes you, Sarah!” That’s what my dad would always say when I’d come home from school, complaining that no one liked me. Now that I think about it, the truth is somewhere between the 2 extremes: everyone & no one. Rejection is tricky, but all of us have to manage it at various times & in varying degrees. Here are some thoughts that I hope you’ll find helpful:
rejection is universal: everyone gets rejected at some point (some of those points are linear, connecting the dots & some are hops & skips)
being rejected isn’t as important as what you do with it
is there a reason for you being rejected? Do you need to make some adjustments?
forgiveness redeems rejection & transforms it to something of great value (consider Joseph & his brothers who sold him into slavery in Genesis)
God never rejects you – you are accepted among the beloved – Eph 1:6
In Jesus’ life, His crucifixion (the ultimate rejection) came immediately on the heels of Palm Sunday
I was recently backing out of a parking space & didn’t see a mom walking w her kids. Thankfully, I didn’t hit anyone but I felt really bad! I quickly rolled down my window & apologized, explaining that I didn’t see them & that I was super sorry. The mom was very understanding & gracious, whew!!
So here’s my point:
*I want to make it easy for people to forgive me – admitting fault quickly & honestly helps w this
*I want to make it easy for people to be polite to me – being respectful is a great platform for this
*I want to make it easy for people to help me – being less independent is my challenge on this one
*I want to make it easy for people to thank me – being quick to help is a good starting point
I want to make the lives of others better & not more difficult. Let’s all aim for this goal 😀
When I was growing up, I used to complain to my parents about not having any friends – it was partly true, because I wasn’t a very friendly person. Nevertheless, my parents would always encourage me that I had lots of friends & they were always very affirming on this topic. Here are some other pearls of wisdom they taught me in relation to friendships:
diversity is good – its good to have lots of different kinds of friends: smart, funny, healthy, beautiful, chubby, witty, deep, seasonal, insightful, superficial, . . . . . Diversity is the spice of life!
in order to have friends, we must be friendly: smile, be forgiving, generous, seeking to understand
be more concerned about being interested rather than interesting: listening can be a timeless gift
a friendship isn’t merely about what you can get out of the relationship, but also what you can give
don’t be disappointed because someone is unable to give something you want in a friendship – maybe they don’t have that skill set or ability, just like you also have some shortcomings
give the benefit of the doubt: don’t assign malicious intent
no one person can be your everything in life – this expectation is unhealthy & ultimately idolatrous
be the friend you would like to have 🙂
forgive, forgive, forgive & be prepared to continue forgiving