Forgiveness: It's about you.

I just want to share a few short thoughts on forgiveness and before I do, let me share the why I think this subject is so very relevant to those trying to strive for healthy living. I have found that unforgiveness and the stress it brings pushes many of us to eat, drink, or find other areas that help us escape our pain. Probably the greatest motivation to self- medicate with food, drugs, alcohol, or sex is our desire to escape our painful past.

I escaped with food.

Let’s talk about forgiveness, and please understand that this subject is much to vast to address exhaustively in a short Fit.Church Weekend Video, but we can make a start.

1. Forgiveness is about you.

Have you heard this saying, “Refusing to forgive someone else is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die.”? I have, and when I googled the statement, almost a 1 million hits were there. While I don’t know who to attribute the quote to, it is true.

We mistakenly feel that forgiving someone is about letting them off the hook for a wrong they have done. As a victim of someone else’s action, if I fail to forgive, I am choosing to allow that action to victimize me the rest of my life. Someone can still be held accountable for their action even when they are forgiven.

2. Forgiveness is a process.

We often think that since forgiveness is commanded in the Bible that it is a decision that we simply make. There is nothing simple about it. Forgiveness is much more a decision that is made over and over and over again. Forgiveness is much more like my health journey. I did make a decision in 2010 to become healthy, but it has been anything but

 

Ephesians 4:31-32

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you,

along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as

God in Christ forgave you.

 

3. Forgiveness does NOT require reconciliation.

I could list many situations where reconciliation while possible may not be probable. Domestic violence is one of those issues that make reconciliation improbable in many instances. Forgiveness without reconciliation is possible and a reality for many in certain situations.

Now listen to the passage of scripture one more time...

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Finally, let me emphasize one final time...Forgiving someone who victimized you in any way...is for your benefit.

I Keep Putting It Off....

There are at least three reasons I procrastinate.

And I’m telling you I come from a long line of procrastinators and I excel at it. I haven’t earned a degree in Procrastination but I have vast life experience.

  1. I procrastinate because I don’t think I have enough time to do it right.
  2. I procrastinate because I would rather escape the pain.
  3. I procrastinate because I have unrealistic expectations.

Proverbs 6:6-8
6Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise!
7 Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
8 they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.

 

Three things I’ve embraced that are helping me to overcome my procrastination tendencies.

And please understand, while I still struggle with procrastination, I have vastly improved since my health journey started in 2010. I used to live on the edge for everything, and I procrastinated everything. Now it is mostly bigger projects, like a patio garden or organizing family photo’s, but it used to be going to the dentist or doctor, healthy daily activity, eating right, and other life essentials that make life easier and more secure.

Now these three things are not “secret” nor are they “complex”, in fact they are simple yet when practiced they are profound.

  1. I value Action over my feelings.
  2. I formulate a plan with a realistic deadline.
  3. I make small steps.

Have you Experienced Easter?

John 20:1-18

1Early on Sunday morning, Greek On the first day of the week. while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings.8Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10Then they went home.

11Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13“Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15“Dear woman, why are you crying?”Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16“Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

17“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Time For Healing, Time to Forgive: FC Weekends 004

Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

I don’t know about you, but I have found that forgiveness is a different experience for various people and many times, larger people, struggle with past circumstances in life which push them towards unhealthy behavior.

Let me explain, as someone who has struggled with my weight over all my life, I realize that self-esteem was at the root of much of my behavior. You see, growing up moving from town to town, and always being the new kid...there were times early on where I was made fun of for all kinds of reasons, and I began to believe that I just deserved much of the behavior.

I allowed words said to me and actions taken against me to just pile up. I never let them go, never forgave the people who did and said things, I just let them sit. I had some very tragic and unjust actions occur that were sad, unnecessary, and ugly.

Part of my health journey while on Biggest Loser was realizing that I had to move through forgiveness and embrace who I was.

When we struggle with forgiveness, we experience a barrier to our spiritual growth.

Over the last number of years, I have come across several writings on forgiveness and I’ve adopted them as my own. What I’m going to share today is not my own, but it is what I have come to practice. So I want to thank all the various writers and pastors who have helped me forgive.

One author wrote about what forgiveness is not.

  • When you forgive a person, it does not mean you are immediately healed.
  • When you forgive a person, it does not mean you are going to be buddy/buddy.
  • When we forgive a person, it does not mean we surrender the right to restitution or justice when appropriate.
  • When we forgive a person, it does not mean that we trust them.
  • When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding pain, we are opening the door to healing.
  • When we forgive, we take the journey at the pace we are able to handle...the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey.

What is forgiveness?

Some people who have troubles with forgiveness think that forgiveness does not take the harm of sin seriously. But forgiveness does take it very seriously. Forgiveness does not excuse sin, it does not say "O that’s alright, your sin really wasn’t a bother, my stay in the hospital wasn’t that long, and I was able to catch up on my reading!" No forgiveness calls sin, sin, and in many ways it holds the sinner accountable for their actions. Forgiveness is to release, to let go, relinquish, get rid of sin—ours and those we’ve been victimized by.

You have most likely heard someone say, Or maybe you have said yourself "Ill forgive them when they come and say they are sorry." This is not God’s way God says "I forgive you, now will you accept it by confessing and repenting?" If we wait for a confession to forgive, most often we will be waiting a long time.

We must remember that God’s grace is free, but it is not cheap. When God’s grace comes into our lives, it does not leave us as we were, it changes us. And one of the first changes that it make is to give us the power to forgive. By forgiving others we are proving that we have accepted God’s forgiveness, and are living in it!

1) Forgiveness is a process.

If we have wronged someone, I mean seriously wounded them, it is unfair for us to go to them and say, “I’m really sorry I hurt you, can you forgive me.” In many ways this approach can not take seriously the wrong committed against another. What we should say instead is, “I have wronged you. I recognize that. I deeply regret what I have done. I will live now in a different way, and hope that someday forgiveness will be possible between us.” The focus needs to be on making amends, and not just seeking forgiveness. You see, we must realize that forgiveness is not about clearing a perpetrator’s conscience. It is not about bringing peace to the life of the wrongdoer. The focus of forgiveness and reconciliation is about bringing healing to the victim. You see when we discuss forgiveness we cannot separate it from reconciliation and healing.

As a victim, if we are unable to clearly forgive, and meant it—we should respond and say, “I too want forgiveness to be real between us. Can we work on it until we know that we’ve experienced it together?”

2) Forgiveness is hard work.

It is not easy to give up our right to be hurt, to be angry to get back, to hate the other for what they have done. You may have had terrible things done to you by someone you loved and trusted, and they hurt you and broke your trust. You may have lost a great deal because of someone’s actions.

3) Forgiveness is an act of faith.

All of the above is true. Forgiveness is a process; it is hard work, and it is an act of faith. Forgiveness says, "you hurt me, and what you did was wrong, but I will not hold it against you, I will not try to get back at you and I will not hate you for it." Forgiveness brings freedom, joy, and life. The lack of forgiveness brings obsession, resentment, bitterness, and death.

We must forgive those who have hurt us. Not only because God commands it, but because it is the best thing for us. When we refuse to forgive the bitterness grows like cancer within us and it eats away at us, causing stress and illness and great lack of joy.

When we refuse to forgive, we allow the sin that was committed against us to continue to make us its’ victim. We need to stop the pain and forgive.

In l880, James Garfield was elected president of the United States, but after only six months in office, he was shot in the back with a revolver. He never lost consciousness. At the hospital, the doctor probed the wound with his little finger to seek the bullet. He couldn’t find it, so he tried a silver-tipped probe. Still he couldn’t locate the bullet.

They took Garfield back to Washington, D.C. Despite the summer heat, they tried to keep him comfortable. He was growing very weak. Teams of doctors tried to locate the bullet, probing the wound over and over. In desperation they asked Alexander Graham Bell, who was working on a little device called the telephone, to see if he could locate the metal inside the president’s body. He came, he sought, and he too failed. The president hung on through July, through August, but in September he finally died-not from the wound, but from infection. The repeated probing, which the physicians thought would help the man, eventually killed him.

So it is with people who dwell too long on their wounds and refuse to release it in forgiveness to God and to others.

Ecclesiastes 11:4 MSG Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work. Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.