STEPS TO SEEKING FORGIVENESS
Phase 1: Acknowledge wrong-doing
- Clarify why a certain behavior was hurtful. Without understanding the harmful effects of your behavior, it will be difficult to change. Attempt to understand the hurt or pain from the point of view of those who have been hurt, and try to understand the harmful effect on you.
- Acknowledge to yourself and others that the behavior was a mistake. Being able to acknowledge the mistake verbally is an important step if the relationship is to be healed.
- Express genuine sorrow to all those involved for the mistake you have made. When you understand the harmful effects of your behavior, and can express that with true feelings of sorrow, you open up possibilities for change and for healing.
Phase 2: Make amends
- Act out of a deep sense of honoring yourself and the other party involved. Don’t cater to postures of narrow defensiveness. It is courageous to face up to the harm you have done. Take the first step toward healing by being generous and proactive in your attempts to reconcile.
- Find a “stroke” that is equal to your “blow.” Do this by asking the party that is hurt what you can do that is equally positive to balance the negative. This is ultimately only symbolic, since we cannot undo past harm. Nevertheless, it is a critical sign of goodwill and true remorse.
- Make amends in a timely manner. The longer you delay, the more the wounds will fester. So act as swiftly as the processing of your feelings will allow.
Phase 3: Commit to change
Make a clear commitment to change your harmful patterns of behavior. This may involve clarifying what kinds of events trigger your destructive responses, and finding ways to avoid such situations
The process Forgiving of Others
People seeking a forgiveness process can have very different needs. For example, one person’s situation may emphasize the need for a lot of safe emotional release. For another, it may be that carefully upgrading negative belief systems is the most important. For another it may be clearing up misunderstandings about what forgiveness really is so that the choice to do it can be made wholeheartedly. Another may need reassurance that forgiveness will not make them weak, but will actually strengthen them. For another person, it may be that they have never really connected with their deep values, and so on. Each of the steps in the longer version has been included because someone at some time will find it very important.
Five Steps to Interpersonal Forgiveness and Restored Relationships
- Restoring the attitude of love. To love another is to see that person as full of worth and precious regardless of any wrongdoing. This is not forgiveness, although most writers and pastors call it such, it is the prerequisite step. Forgiving cannot begin until love has been re-extended to the offender. Love is possible when we see the other’s value once more, recognize his preciousness, and choose to understand, even of what is beyond being understood.
- Releasing the painful past. To accept another is to meet him or her now, as the person he/she really is. To hold the past between us as if it could be undone or to demand that what was done must be redone is fantasy, not reality. To come to terms with reality is to accept the past as past. Obviously, what has happened has happened, but emotionally it is still taking place. In anger, we struggle with the illusion that we can turn time backwards and run it all through again, that we can make the other undo what he or she did. I am not my past; I am a person capable of repenting, changing, and turning away from past patterns of behavior. You are not your past; you are equally free to change if you accept the freedom that is within you. To affirm that freedom is the first step of forgiveness.
- Reconstructing the relationship. This is the real work of forgiveness. To review the pain of offense within each of us and between the both of us is not easy, but it is the way to healing. As we work through our anger and pain in reciprocal trusting and risking, at last we come to recognize the genuineness of each other’s intentions. Our repentance needs to be authentic, honest, and as complete as possible. That is the central work of forgiveness. “If your brother wrongs you, reprove him; and if he repents, forgive him. Even if he wrongs you seven times in a day and comes back to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry, ‘you are to forgive him,” says Jesus in His most succinct and clear description of essential forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4 NEB).
- Reopening the future. This is the consequence of transforming the memory from a wound that will not heal to a wound that has healing power within the soul. The relationship may return to a civil participation in community with mutual respect, or to a new level of friendship resulting from the depth of encounter, that has taken place; or it may mean a return to or the beginning of profound trust and willingness to risk. In each case, the future is reopened to whatever level of relating is appropriate to the two participants. Not every relationship should be pursued. Not every forgiveness leads to a continuing conversation between the two. Not every healed injury will result in the resumption of the previous relationship. There is a time to say “Good-bye” and a time to say “Hello” and a time to say “May the Lord watch between us as we part from each other in mutual respect and friendly parting.” But the future is open to possibilities we do not yet see.
Forgiveness, by definition, is the mutual recognition that repentance is genuine and that right relationships have either been restored or are now achieved. The ratio of repentance between two estranged persons is hard to define. However, the two can find their way until both recognize that the overtures are genuine in intention. Perfection in performance is not a suitable criterion, Jesus insists. Even when a person fails repeatedly to hold true to his intentions and returns with recurrent requests-seven times in one day-we are to accept based on sincere regret.
Charles William, the English theologian, has written on this: “Who decides? Whether repentance is indeed repentance? On the other hand, whether it is fear, greed, or hate masquerading as repentance? Must we? In fact, we do because we must. No doubt in the end only God knows all, and we may forgive a hypocrite or reject a penitent. The danger of the last is the greater.”
The demand for an ironclad guarantee that will fix all future acts permanently and securely and insure our safety from any future pain must be canceled. No one can offer such assurance and go on living as a truly human being. Such promises of perfection are possible only for saints or statues, and neither is desirable in a relationship. In the future, we will be spontaneous together. We may fail. We may act hurtfully again.Culled from OVER COMING THE SPIRIT OF UNFORGIVENESS. To order for book/ prayers and counseling call 07036602410