My View of Forgiveness
I like to think of forgiveness as a winding road over rough terrain. Along the way, we encounter obstacles that may deter us, force us to turn back, or make us more determined than ever to move forward. Today, I would like to give you an overview of where we’re going for the next eight weeks. Hopefully, today’s post will serve as a road map for our journey.
The Roadblocks to Forgiveness
The way I see it, there are nine major roadblocks to forgiveness. As long as these stand in our way, we can’t make much progress:
- guilt and shame
- low self-esteem
Learn the Truth about God’s Character
In order to remove the roadblocks that we encounter, I believe there is a step-by-step process that we can follow to successfully forgive others. My ten steps are based on God’s character, as found in the Bible. We must:
- recognize the differences between right and wrong;
- show mercy to others;
- understand the meaning of full grace;
- develop patience;
- detach ourselves from unholy people and practices;
- become peacemakers, not peacekeepers;
- allow God’s justice to work in our world;
- honor God and others;
- be as kind to others as God is to us; and
- love our enemies, just as God loves us.
Accept that We All Need Forgiveness
As trauma survivors, the last thing we want to think about is our own sin. We’re too busy fuming over the sins of our perpetrators. When we accept that we need God and others to forgive us, we understand how hard the process can be for the person who hurt us. Acceptance involves seven steps. We need to:
- recognize that we all deserve punishment;
- acknowledge that we are sinning against our perpetrators and God;
- ask God to forgive us;
- accept God’s grace;
- focus on cleaning up only ourselves;
- practice asking for forgiveness from safe people; and
- make up for the damages we have caused.
Be Clear that Forgiving after Trauma Might Involve Landslides
The following assumptions that many Christians make in forgiving the unforgivable have caused too many to suffer or even abandon their faith in God:
- We must learn to get along with evil people;
- We have to reconcile with our enemies;
- We should teach our enemies how to apologize; and
- We have to tell our enemies face-to-face, “I forgive you.”
As you can see, this forgiveness process involves a lot of self-discovery about our own brokenness. Only by finding forgiveness for ourselves through God’s grace can we learn how to forgive the people who have hurt us.
Get a journal, composition book, or spiral notebook for this series. On the first page, write out a prayer, asking God to reveal what you need to learn over the course of our study on forgiveness.
For more in-depth reading and exercises about forgiveness, please visit cheryldenton.com to buy a copy of my book, The Road to Forgiveness: Removing the Roadblocks. Click on the image below to find out more about my writing and my ministry.