Last week, we started to outline the process of forgiveness. Remember, God’s forgiveness forges the path to soul healing. Forgiveness is costly. Forgiveness is not a one-time event, but an embodied lifestyle that is formed by habits. And finally, forgiveness is a process. Sometimes it is a fast process. Sometimes forgiveness and healing take years. So far in our process of forgiveness we have:
- Acknowledge the hurt. This is the facts of what happened to you. You are naming your pain.
- Lament over your hurt. This is the follow question to naming the pain – what did that pain do to your soul, your mind, and/or your body? How did that event fracture your relationships?
Now we come to the next stage in the process of forgiveness: Search for your wrongdoing. Did I cause harm to this person? Is there anything that I need to be forgiven for in our relationship? This step requires humility and prevents you from becoming a victim only. Part of living forgiveness is understanding that there are actions that I need to be forgiven for.
Next is to release the person/hurt to God. The New Testament word often translated forgiveness can be easily translated “let it go.” Let it go where? Let it go to the Lord, who in His mercy forgave you. Under the cross all humans stand together as sinners in need of a savior. God views us all the same. Or as the King James so bluntly puts it “God is no respecter of persons.”
Finally, pray or will the good for that person. Robert Benson tells the story of praying for his ex-wife after his divorce. He always would imagine the person he was praying for in his mind. When his ex-wife popped into his mind, he would have a physical reaction of anger in his chest. Over time though, the anger began to subside, until one day he noticed that when he prayed for her, there was no anger, but only a feeling of love (not romantic love) that wanted to see the best for her. That’s the moment he knew he had forgiven her. Just to recap the process of forgiveness looks like:
- Acknowledge the hurt.
- Lament over your hurt.
- Search for your wrongdoing.
- Release the person/hurt to God.
- Pray or will the good for that person.