Chapter Three, Part Three
The Art of Forgiveness
We’ve already discussed the fact that forgiveness is not a feeling and it’s a choice we make. However, there are times when we have to deal with our painful feelings when we’ve been hurt, or when we’ve hurt someone else.
Our well-being…our psychology demands it.
So, when you’ve been hurt by someone you trusted, say because of unfaithfulness or deception, you begin reconciling your feelings by going to God and saying, “I forgive them.”
After you’ve done that, the real work of reconciling your feelings and sometimes rebuilding the relationship begins. I say sometimes because it is contingent on the situation. It may also depend on how much damage was done to the relationship.
Please understand, I am a realist. Sometimes reconciliation is possible and sometimes it’s not healthy. So, how do you know the difference?
You pray. You’ve already forgiven the other person, but only God knows where the other person actually stands on the matter. When you pray, ask God how you should proceed. Since God loves you (and the other person) you can rely on God to do what’s best for both of you in this situation.
Take for instance, an unfaithful partner. God can see their heart and their intent. If their intent is to turn away from the third person and never see them again, God will know that. But…if their intent is to pretend things are great with you and they secretly want to continue seeing the other person, God will know that as well.
Listen carefully for the answer.
People have asked me how long they need to listen, and my answer is, ‘for as long as it takes for you to have your peace restored.’
During this time, ask God to protect you from outside influences, surround you with the Spirit, and even protect you with angels to guard you. Angels guard us physically, but they also guard our heart.
When we ask for protection, God always gives it.
If the situation you find yourself in came about because you hurt someone else, the best approach is to ask God to forgive you, confess it to the other person, and surrender the matter to God.
Even if the other person you hurt isn’t ready or willing to talk with you, once you surrender the matter to God He will continue to heal and help them.
You also, need to ask God to heal you in this situation. It does not matter if you hurt the other person intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, once you surrender it to God, the Spirit will restore you and bring you peace.
It may seem like there should be some difference between our intent, but that is because we are human.
God is divine.
God knows what happened to you prior to and after you hurt the other person. God loves you and always wants to restore and heal you.
God loves you.
God loves YOU.
Regardless of what you’ve done, When you are willing to confess, God wants to restore you.
I can tell you from experience that the restoration process can be quick or it can take years. The timing really depends on the severity of the situation and how long the deception went on. For example, if it went on for months while you had a feeling something was wrong, healing will take longer than it would take if it was confessed quickly.
Once again, only God knows the severity of the situation. Going to God regularly and sitting with God, asking for healing, and help can take time. The incredible thing about God is that He will sit with you for as long as it takes.
Healing can also take longer for another reason. Even while God is healing us, He is gentle and never gives us more than we can stand. Remember one of the fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness. God is gentle.
As general knowledge I can tell you that I’ve been part of small groups that support each other through the healing process. Being part of a group can be helpful because you can come to realize you are not the only person who has and is suffering. It doesn’t minimize your suffering but it does make it so you know you’re not alone.
I would also say that finding a Spiritual Director to talk with can be helpful.
You can also find healing and help from counseling. Depending on your situation, the length of time you meet with a counselor will vary.
The bottom line is that forgiveness from God is instant, but healing from the situation is not so instant.
Forgiving another person begins when we say ‘I forgive you’, but healing our body and our brain can take time.
In Luke 10, Jesus sent seventy disciples out to minister and heal. Jesus gave them specific instructions and He pointed them toward peace. In Luke 10:9, He said, “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ “
Peace was the key. You know the kingdom of God is near when you sense God’s peace in you.
In other words, Jesus told the seventy to heal the sick and knowing they received God’s healing meant the ‘kingdom of God was near.’
When healing comes one of the first things we experience is the peace of God.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Seek God’s healing and peace
Ask God to heal you and give you peace.
In God, Deborah