Sunday, September 15, 2013

Advice for Forgiving Others

“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

This week in worship we continued our series on forgiveness by talking about forgiving others.  Although I shared how we can begin that process by gaining a proper understanding of the word, I’d like to build on that here by sharing two suggestions that I’ve practiced occasionally in my own life:  writing an apology; and writing a letter of forgiveness.  Both of these come from Marjorie J. Thompson’s workbook Companions in Christ: The Way of Forgiveness (Nashville, Upper Room Books, 2012):

Guidelines for Writing A Good Apology:  (page 92)

1.         Be respectful of the person you are writing to. Courtesy and tact are important.

2.         Do not try to defend yourself, make excuses, or explain all the 
circumstances from your perspective.

3.         Go right to the point and use simple, direct language.

Writing a Letter of Forgiveness: (page 80)

            Write a letter of forgiveness to someone toward whom you feel resentment.  It could be someone who has already died, or whom you’ll never see again.  Perhaps it is someone you live or work with.  It could be yourself.  Who needs forgiveness from you? Write to that person.
            First, acknowledge the truth of your negative feelings -- all your hurt and anger, your pain and grief.  Be absolutely honest.
            Then, release it.  Let go of the burden of your resentment, anger, anguish, and guilt for feeling these things.  Confirm that you are doing this in your writing.
            Let the matter lie where it will with respect to the other; you cannot be responsible for his or her feelings or responses, only your own.  You are choosing to free yourself from this particular bondage to the past.
            Remember that God has empowered you to forgive, once and for all, one the Cross.  Ask for the grace to let God take the burden from you, now and forever.  You may decide at some point to sent this letter, or you may not.  Regardless, you can expect healing and new energy to flow from this exercise of faith.

 As I said, I’ve done both of these things on occasion when I felt hurt or wounded, and I’ve found both exercises to be very helpful in finding ultimate peace and healing.  As you consider people that you are feeling led to extend forgiveness to (or to ask forgiveness from), I pray that these would be helpful to you, as well.  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!

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