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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)

I would be lying if I said that I don't need to forgive both myself and others. I'm very self-critical, but I can be pretty critical of others as well.

"To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable,
because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"
(C.S. Lewis)
Until we forgive, we are in a self-made prison and at a stand-still in our relationship with God. If we don't forgive, we will lose our appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, Christian fellowship... we cut ourselves off from God.

I've been in that self-made prison before, where the appetite for prayer, the Scriptures, and Christian fellowship it lost. It's a lonely and dark place to be.
"Forgiveness happens inside the person doing the forgiving. It heals our pain and resentment before it does anything for the person we forgive; they might never know about it" (Lewis Smedes, author of The Art of Forgiving, Morrings, 1996).
My car accident, and the resulting health struggles, has often left me feeling lonely. There are some of my friends that I felt would (and should? - see, being critical) be there for me in ways that they simply weren't / haven't been. It has hurt me so deeply that I find myself trying to trudge through latent resentment, which has held me back from doing all I should to help heal these relationships.
If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, ask yourself in what way you might lack forgiveness for yourself.
I have been looking a lot at what I need to forgive myself for, in hopes that it would free me to be able to forgive others. The Bible does not specifically speak of forgiving ourselves.
"Not forgiving ourselves is a symptom, which will take care of itself if we truly forgive others and receive prayers of healing" (from here).
So, I should be working harder to forgive others, that I, too, may be forgiven.
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation" (Luke 11:4).
In order to forgive, we must release old perceptions and unresolved hurts, but that does not mean that we have to trust him/her or condone inappropriate behavior. We can forgive, while still keeping healthy boundaries. But, forgiveness releases us from the chains of unresolved resentment, and allows us to open our heart and freely consider the future of our relationships.
"Forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to let go of the hurt due to sins committed against us and to express this by acts of mercy and love toward the offender" (from here; see Luke 15:20-24).
We are called to forgive immediately (see Matthew 5:25) and indefinitely - "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matthew 18:22).

We are called to pardon / forgive others, before we are asked for forgiveness.. and even if we are never asked for forgiveness.
"None of us can forgive by our own power. "To err is human, to forgive divine," [Alexander Pope] and we are not divine. However, the Lord promised us His divine power to forgive. Therefore, forgiveness is our decision to accept God's grace to forgive" (from here).
I'm trying to let go of the unresolved resentment that I've held onto toward myself and others. But, I'm trusting in God's mercy and in His timetable.
We must ask for the grace of forgiveness, and then let go - it may take a short or long period of time, but it will come.
I already have the grace and forgiveness of my loving Father, and that makes all the difference.
"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world."  (Marianne Williamson)

Lessons Series:
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 1)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 2)
Lessons: Grace & Forgiveness (Part 3)