Forgiveness

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Martin Luther King understood forgiveness. So do the victims, pushed into the media spotlight by unfathomable, agonising crime, who publicly – and genuinely –  forgive the perpetrators.

And us? You and me? If we’re honest, we admit that we struggle with forgiveness. Where’s the justice? What about my feelings, my agony, my heartbreak, my broken life? Don’t they count? Why should I let that rotten so-and-so off the hook?

4 reasons why forgiveness is important

  • Forgiveness is a gift to yourself as well as the forgiven – it lets you move forward
  • Forgiveness liberates you – from being stuck, from negative emotions, from stress
  • Forgiveness is essential for healing
  • And, most important of all, Jesus told us to forgive.

“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” [Matt 6:12 NLT]. 

The Aramaic word for forgiveness means to untie.

Whether you’re angry, distressed, plotting revenge, cursing or just flinching at the memory, you are tightly bound to the event, albeit by invisible cords. This ‘stuckness’ can prevent you moving forward with your life or influence the way you think. “I’ll never trust another man/girl/boss” is just one example of this.

And the instigator  of your misery probably isn’t  giving you a second thought and is enjoying life. To put it another way, you’ve given away your power to enjoy life and prosper.

Furthermore,  you’re being avidly stalked by the  Terrible Trio of resentment, bitterness and anger. These guys are destructive and can eventually crush your emotional and physical health as they release toxic chemicals into your body.

poison

There are common misconceptions about forgiveness which muddy the water and make it seem more difficult. Understanding these helped me enormously. Let’s take a look at what forgiveness isn’t as well as what it is.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation

You have choices:

  1. Has the relationship run its course and is now over?
  2. Do you want to keep the person in your life but add boundaries or make changes for the future?
  3. Are you happy for the relationship to continue as before?

Forgiveness doesn’t mean minimising

You can be real:

  1. You don’t have to pretend that the incident never happened
  2. You don’t have to justify how upset you are
  3. You don’t have to forget before you forgive
  4. You don’t have to condone what happened

Forgiveness is purposeful

It’s not called an ‘act of forgiveness’ for nothing. It’s an action not a feeling. It’s something you do, not something you feel. You choose to forgive, and then you work  on it. How long it takes depends depends on the circumstances and the original offence. There have been people in my life that took me a long time to forgive fully, others not so long.

“We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.” T.D. Jakes

Help with forgiving

Believe that it is possible. God never asks us to do anything that’s impossible. Pray for help. Admit that you’re finding it hard and ask GodThis prayer offers some ideas what to say if you’re stuck [scroll down the page]

Pray for the person who wronged you. Pray that you both can understand each other’s position and viewpoints.

Write out your thoughts and  feelings in your journal as you go through the process.

Consider whether it is in both your interests to have a conversation with the other party and/or to let them know you have forgiven them.

“Deepen your understanding of God’s forgiveness through Bible study and meditation. God has been astoundingly, absurdly generous to us. Let that grace prompt humility and gratitude.” Charles Swindoll

Forgiveness is challenging but it is possible and it benefits you immeasurably.

If you have any ideas to add to this post, please let me know in the box below and please feel free to share this post.

You may also find these helpful as well.  Forgiveness:When you forgive but they won’t let you forget by Minister Desiray Lewis  and  Overcoming Hurtful Words. 

Let’s finish with a message from St Paul.

Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. [Colossians 3:13 GW]

Please share your comments and questions below.  And, if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.

Nina is a qualified life coach who enjoys learning and sharing about flourishing.  She is a novice blogger.

Journal Your Way to Success!

I am a massive fan of journalling. When I mentioned this recently, one of my students smiled wryly, saying “Come on, Nina, isn’t that a bit teenage angst?”

Everyone laughed.  But I knew what she  meant.

I have fond memories of my [ locked :)]  teenaged journals.  I never scribbled down anything earth shattering but it was a safe place to write out my thoughts and feelings. Then it  fizzled out. And in the throes of  de-cluttering I binned them,  an act I now bitterly regret. I’d love to read them today.

Fast forward a couple of decades [give or take :)]  I became a life coach and realised that writing in a journal regularly is invaluable. It facilitates so many aspects of our life, including our walk with God.

The Link Between Success & Keeping a Journal

The latest research suggests that success is a product of happiness – that the more upbeat and positive you are, then the more effective, efficient and successful you’ll be. The brilliant Shawn Achor calls this The Happiness Advantage.’

shawn achor

Basically, the old school theory that success makes you happy has been turned on its head.

Leading a meaningful life [getting involved, helping others, praying, meditating on the Word] is an essential component of happiness – rather acquiring possessions, money, status. [I love it when the world catches on to what we’ve read in the Bible]

According to Shawn Achor, using your journal to record daily at least 3 things that you are grateful for positively affects the way you see the world and enables you to relive the experience, which boosts your morale and motivation.

Additionally, reading through these upbeat entries now and again will encourage and inspire you.

Benefits to Emotional Health

Journalling gives you a chance to express your feelings fully and to reflect on how situations are affecting you. The act of writing, whether it’s fully coherent or ‘stream of consciousness’,  generates ideas. When you review what you’ve written you start to see issues/events more clearly.

1) Writing  clarifies your thoughts –  your ideas and thoughts are consequently more real and tangible than when they are ‘floating around’ your head.

This enables you to properly assess and analyse what you are thinking. Written down your thoughts and feelings become more comprehensible, so you can review ‘complete’ thoughts rather than vague, fuzzy unfinished ideas. Consequently, you can spot dumb or unrealistic thinking. As a result. you’ll make better choices and decisions.

2) Regularly writing down what is happening in your life lets you  identify recurring habits and behaviours.

Consequently, you have the chance to re-think/re-evaluate how you approach certain situations and, if need be, find a way to handle them differently. This results in improved outcomes for you and for others.

3) You can  track  what is happening in your life, what is working well and what needs re-planning or re-strategizing. You can make necessary adjustments and identify successes that need celebrating.

[Keep a section of your journal specifically to record successes – it will motivate you and cheer you up on ‘bad’ days.]

4) When things go wrong – use your journal to vent –  just let it all out. You can tear the pages out later if you don’t want to keep them.

This prevents you saying stuff that you later regret. Or stops you saying things that you later realise were based on your mistaken perceptions. After the vent, you can work out whether you need to take action and how to do so.

5) Use your diary to daydream. Just let your imagination wander freely and take notes. Words or pictures are fine but a combination of both satisfies the left and right sides of the brain.

You can analyse this later and see if any of it is genuine vision and needs to be added to your goals.

6) Use a section of your journal to record your goals. Make sure that you write in an affirmative style with an end date.

Read through them on a daily basis – ideally, read them out loud as it changes the way your brain processes them.

This keeps your goals fresh in your mind – remember that we move towards what we pay attention to. You can record your progress as well – which is highly motivating 🙂

7) At least once a week (every day is best) write down what you are grateful for – no matter how large or small it may be.

Having an attitude of gratitude has numerous benefits e.g. you are more productive, you enjoy closer relationships with people you love, you feel more satisfied with your life and thus happier, you discover new reasons to praise God

Benefits to Physical Health

Many of us tend to carry stress and negative emotions in our bodies. You know those feelings of tension in the shoulders or stomach when you’re upset or you’ve had a tough day at work. Or you get a bad throat when you’ve failed to communicate what you wanted to say to someone.

Writing down how you are feeling shifts the situation and your feelings surrounding it out of you and onto the page. This ‘space’ between you and the issue allows you to reflect, analyse and understand what is going on and work out a course of action.

How To Start Journalling

jou

All you need is a hard-backed note book and a pen. Have your Bible to hand as well as you may want to read it at some stage.

Make yourself a cup of tea, choose a warm, comfortable place  where be undisturbed, and just start writing.

It might feel a bit weird to start with, but it gets easier – promise:) – and remember, this journal is for you – no-one is going to check your spelling or grammar 🙂

You might sometimes find it easier to draw your ideas/plans or stick in pictures and why not use mind maps as well?

Thank you for reading this blog 🙂 I’d really like to know how you get on with journalling.

Please share your comments and questions below.  And, if you found this post helpful, please share it with your friends.

Nina is a qualified life coach who enjoys learning and sharing about flourishing.  She is a novice blogger.