For those who don't know, I am studying at a Christian institute a bachelor in social science. I am doing a series of theology/Christian based subjects first (which are part of the course) and I must say I am really enjoying it.
Today we talked about forgiveness, something that I personally battle with. I come down on myself very hard at times, when I still feel pain from unresolved hurts and issues from a while ago. I often condemn myself because I thought that because I have forgiven, that I should not be remembering the hurt or remembering the sin against me.
Today I learned some incredibly freeing things.
Forgiveness defined: choosing to absorb the offence and not get even.
I have always felt guilty and such shame for accepting God's forgiveness, but still feeling hurt and anger over people's actions towards me. I thought that because I still felt hurt and sad, I was harbouring unforgiveness in my heart. Do you know what? I AM allowed to feel hurt, upset, indignant about certain actions.
Recently, I have been hurt, and the person demanded that I forgive them with the "you HAVE to." No I don't HAVE to. I should... but I don't HAVE to. ForGIVEness is something you GIVE. You can't earn it, you can't insist on having it. I did forgive that person - but it had to be my choice, rather than an obligation.
Forgiveness does not excuse the bad behaviour. I am allowed to "judge" by naming the sin. That's how the process gets started - by saying what it is that offends us. Then an apology can be made and forgiveness can procede.
Apologies do not include excuses either. They are genuine expressions of "I'm sorry" and that is all. Real apologies do not consist of "I'm sorry, but.... " or explanations and justifications for the wrong doing.
Forgiveness is NOT forgetting the sin... but by not giving the person what they deserve. I have forgiven the people who have hurt me, because I didn't strike back at them. I have forgiven! I don't have to tell myself over and over to forgive, I shouldn't be feeling this way, because I have to forgive. Just because I am hurting doesn't mean I haven't forgiven. It's impossible to "Forgive and forget". We can't forget - unless we have dementia or something like that. :)
Setting boundaries is perfectly acceptable - and not seeing or spending time with certain people who have abusive tendancies is ok because forgiveness is not necessarily reunion. You would never tell a woman who has been raped that she had to be mates with her attacker would you? Some "relationships" are not healthy nor appropriate.
Some things I need to remember - that I need to see the person in perspective - and not through my pain and through their actions.
Forgiveness is a process - it can't happen immediately.
Amazing sense of freedom here. I feel like a very heavy burden has been lifted from me. I am free. I am free from guilt, shame and self-loathing. I am free to forgive, feel hurt, be upset and it's all ok.
I hope you were able to learn something from this very nutshelled lecture. I hope you too can experience freedom in this area, especially if you struggle with it.
I may talk about this in greater depth another time, but I am just so thrilled to have this burden taken off me, I wanted to share.
CREDITS: This is based on the teaching of my lecturer, Rev. David McGregor and some of his sources were Ray Anderson and Lewis Smedes.
Thankyou Father for your deliverance. Thankyou that "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed!" - thankyou that you have brought me to this time and place to hear this teaching.
Lord thankyou for your forgiveness of my sins. Thankyou that you died on the cross so I can experience this forgiveness. Thankyou that you don't give me what I deserve and revenge yourself on me when I mess up. I want to do the same for those who mess up on me or hurt me.
I want to be open to your leading on this journey and I pray as I continue to grow in you, you will show me more and more of your ways.
Thankyou for setting me free from my own mindset.