Peninsula Community Church
The Pathway to Forgiveness – The Process
January 29, 2012
Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
Dr. Everett Worthington, professor of psychology at Richmond University, has developed a process that will help individuals navigate through to forgiveness. It is from his book “Forgiving and Reconciling: Bridges to wholeness and Hope” that I take much of my notes today.
The first step to forgiveness is to recall the hurt. In some ways this may sound contradictory to what we have already discussed but to successfully navigate to a position of complete forgiveness we must recall or remember the hurt. Otherwise our forgiveness will be like my children when they were younger. When they would do something wrong we would require that they ask forgiveness and apologize for what they had done. The problem too often is that they would say a hasty apology without understanding why they were apologizing and what they were asking forgiveness for. When we would ask them why, they did not know. If we are not careful we will come to the place where we will find ourselves asking forgiveness without knowing why we are asking. But, if we are to navigate through the pain to complete healing we must understand the area of need and why we need to either forgive or receive forgiveness.
The Scripture we read this morning implies that in prayer the one praying realized that they had a specific issue with another person and Jesus issues a command that when we find a reason we need to seek forgiveness.
As we begin to seek forgiveness we must understand what kind of wounds we might have. Do you have nickel wounds, five dollar wounds or five hundred dollar wounds? You see a nickel wound is the kind that comes when the parking space you were sitting and waiting for was taken by someone else. It is an issue but it doesn’t require a confrontation other than dealing with the anger you might feel within yourself. It may hurt for a second but we quickly get over it. But if we don’t deal with 5 cent wounds they can become five dollar wounds.
On the other hand a five dollar wound might be the type when someone embarrasses us by saying something that hurts us but they quickly respond and attempt to make it right. Again this is a painful moment but we should be able to get over it and resolve the issue fairly quickly.
However, at the five hundred dollar level there has been significant pain and hurt involved. These wounds often leave a lasting impression on your psyche. In fact these wounds often begin to define or redefine who you are. For example if it is a wound of rejection you can begin to imagine that everyone is either rejecting you or that they will reject you. These wounds change you for ever. Perhaps it is a divorce. Perhaps it is the child who rebels and makes decisions that impact them but also your family. Perhaps it is sexual abuse that mars your trust in others from that point forward.
Let me just say that too often we reside in the nickel wound area rather than dealing with the big issues. My thoughts over the next few weeks relate to the five hundred dollar wounds but can also be applied to the five dollar and the 5 cent wounds as well.
We usually know that we have a wound or an area of our lives that needs forgiveness because of how we respond to the wounds in our lives. How do we respond to wounds? We usually respond emotionally in various ways. For example, we may respond in any of the following ways:
- Fear – when we are hurt our brain and body tend to avoid future hurts. If similar events or actions occur the emotional alarms are set off. In Genesis 32:7 we see Jacob being fearful of his encounter with Esau.
- Anger – When offended we can get angry. We will either respond most often with anger or with fear. We will be thin skinned and be offended by almost any thing. They expect hurt or injury because of the fear that is resident within them. Or people are walking around like volcanoes and waiting only for a place to spew their fire or venom.
- Avoidance – Woundedness causes us to want to avoid the offender or anyone that reminds us of the offender.
- Retaliation/revenge – Retaliation is striking back with little forethought. Revenge on the other hand is plotted, planned and executed in cold blood.
- Attack – Some offenses cause us to go for the jugular.
The wages of chronic unforgiveness is eventual illness – physically, morally, relationally and spiritually.
As we look at this issue of forgiveness we must first understand how we are not to recall a wound?
- Rumination – Rumination is the act of continuing to revisit the cause of the wound but refusing to do anything about it. By recalling we are called to act upon the issue.
- Bitter unforgiveness – the second way to not recall a wound is to allow bitterness to set in. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:15 warns us about allowing a root of bitterness to spring up in our life. A root of bitterness causes us to do things irrationally and on a whim rather than from a position of strength and power in Christ. When I am weak, He is strong.
So how do we recall a hurt?
- Start with prayer. We begin like Jesus commands in the verse above. When we pray and ask God will show us where we need to seek forgiveness. He will give us a plan.
- Create an accurate
picture of what the wound is. We also need to be careful and not imagine things that are not real. Perhaps this is where Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. It is at this stage that we need to have a true and authentic picture of what has offended us and why.
- Begin to step towards a lifestyle and act of forgiveness. Write it down and develop a plan.
Where do you need God’s forgiveness? Would you pray with me that God will help you move from a place of woundedness and hurt to a place of healing and hope.