Tag Archives: Anger

Letter to a Friend on Forgiveness

Dear (Insert your name here),

I don’t know if this will help, but I want you to know that you are not alone in how you feel.  I will tell you that I struggled with forgiveness toward my Mother for most of my life.  My mother abused me terribly when I was a child, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  There was a time when I hated her so much I not only wished she was dead, but even plotted her murder!  When you’ve been hurt and betrayed so many times by someone who’s supposed to love you the pain can almost become more than you can bear.  It is stressful, and your body reacts to stress.  It’s been proven many times over that mental and emotional issues often trigger and are at the core of many physical illnesses.  I know because I’ve experienced it first hand.

     First of all let me tell you that forgiveness isn’t an impossible dream.  It can be acheived even toward those who have wronged you terribly.  Often the desire to forgive, and the guilt over not wanting to forgive, and not being able to forgive become a catch 22.  These thoughts create a loop in our minds that keeps playing over and over again thus putting us in a place where we always feel the pain of the betrayal, and the guilt over not being able to forgive.  It’s a terrible place to be.

     I’ve forgiven my mother.  I’ve forgiven her for the past, and I forgive her for those times in the present when she still tries to hurt me.  How can I do this?  First of all, I had to change the way I looked at forgiveness, and how I thought about it.  As human beings, we tend to look at forgiveness through an emotional lens because our feelings are so strong about it.  We feel therefore we react.  As in so much of life, it’s often our approach that gets us into trouble, and causes trouble for those around us, and this is especially true in the realm of forgiveness.

     People like to beat each other up over forgiveness, and try to one up each other.  Well if you hadn’t done this, then I wouldn’t have done that, and what you did was so much worse, than what I did….ect.  I’m not saying you’ve done this, but I know by your own admission that you are still holding on to the hurt.  I’m not accusing you nor trying to make you feel bad, but truth is truth.  This is one of the things that makes forgiveness so hard.  When we’ve been hurt, we don’t forget.  There’s a lot of people who go around spreading a lot of cockamamie nonsense and garbage about forgiveness.  One of my favorites is, “You haven’t forgiven if you haven’t forgotten.”  Ever heard that one before?  Talk about laying a guilt trip on someone!  By the way, this is one of Satan’s favorite ploys, and he’ll try to use it to destroy your relationship with Christ at worst, and make you ineffective in your life at the very least.  The truth is you’ll never forgive anyone if you believe this garbage because no human being ever forgets the things that have caused them deep pain.  Sadly, too many people, try to use forgiveness, the getting and giving of, as a tool for manipulation and abuse.  It’s sad that human beings can find such a myriad of ways to be cruel to each other, and you can thank Satan for that because he’s a master at it. 

     If you truly desire to forgive and receive forgiveness, and get that nasty loop out of your head, there’s only one way to do it.  In order to truly offer forgiveness you must understand what it is, and what it is not.  First of all, forgiveness is not a feeling or emotional response.  If you wait to feel like you’ve forgiven someone you may be waiting for the rest of your life.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say anywhere that anyone felt like forgiving, or that you have to wait until you feel like it before you can forgive someone.  Go ahead, and look you won’t find any reference to feeling forgiveness in the word of God.  So understand that the act of forgiveness has absolutely nothing to do with our emotions or the feelings of other people. 

     Forgiveness is a decision of the will.  You have to consciously decide that you’re going to give forgiveness, to extend forgiveness even to those who have hurt you regardless of how you feel about it.  A careful study of the word of God makes it very clear.  God expects us to forgive those who have hurt us.  Nowhere does He say you must forget, or that you must deny how you feel.   Forgiveness is a decision and action based on that decision.  When forgiveness becomes an act of the will rather than a response to emotion then forgiving those who hurt us becomes achievable.  If you want to be able to understand forgiveness then look to God  and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as your example.  I suggest you do a Bible study on forgiveness.  Start with Mat. 6:14-15, and go on from there.

     Forgiveness is about the will, about making a choice, about making a decision, that no matter what someone does to us, we will not treat them in the same way they treat us.  Sometimes it’s a process.  Sometimes, it’s a minute by minute decision.  The important thing to remember is that we must be willing.  To this day, my mother doesn’t treat me much better than she ever did.  Do I like it?  No.  Do I treat her in the same way she treats me?  No.  How do I forgive her and continue to forgive her in spite of it all?  I remember this: I’ve said and done horrible, dispicable, awful things in my life to other people, and  I’ve sinned greatly against God!  Then I remember that Jesus died on the cross for each and every one of those awful, horrible, dispicable things I did, and forgave me for each and every one of them.  Then I remember that God loves me so much that He continues to bless my life daily with His goodness, mercy, and compassion. 

     I can tell you this in conclusion.  God doesn’t just want us to forgive.  He demands it!  Why?  Because it’s an affornt to the love and forgiveness He extended and continues to extend to us each and every day.  Being forgiving doesn’t mean that we have to put ourselves in the line of fire all the time, that we have to stand in front of someone and let them berate us over and over again.  It simply means that we choose to treat those people, and to extend to those people the same thing that God does for us.

     There for a long time, I didn’t want to forgive, couldn’t forgive.  In my own strength, I could not do it.  I was filled with bitterness and anger and hurt, and because of it I paid a high price, and my family did, too.  In case, you didn’t know, your family stays and moves within the same circles that you do, and they’re affected just as much as you are by the decisions and choices you make.  Do you really want them there?  My relationship with God went south, too.  You destroy your intimacy with God when you refuse to walk as He wants you to.  It’s not that God stops loving you, but when you walk outside of His will, you choke off the blessings He desires to give you because He cannot and will not condone sin in your life.  When you don’t think you can, remember this, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me.” Phillipians 4:13.

Your Friend,
Wayne

From “Bits and Pieces”

     Sometimes we lose perspective, but before we deal with people we should try to regain it.  This is a good way to do it.  🙂

Many years ago a senior executive of the then Standard Oil Company made a wrong decision that cost the company more than $2 million. John D. Rockefeller was then running the firm. On the day the news leaked out most of the executives of the company were finding various ingenious ways of avoiding Mr. Rockefeller, lest his wrath descend on their heads.

There was one exception, however; he was Edward T. Bedford, a partner in the company. Bedford was scheduled to see Rockefeller that day and he kept the appointment, even though he was prepared to listen to a long harangue against the man who made the error in judgment.

When he entered the office the powerful head of the gigantic Standard Oil empire was bent over his desk busily writing with a pencil on a pad of paper. Bedford stood silently, not wishing to interrupt. After a few minutes Rockefeller looked up.

“Oh, it’s you, Bedford,” he said calmly. “I suppose you’ve heard about our loss?”

Bedford said that he had.

“I’ve been thinking it over,” Rockefeller said, “and before I ask the man in to discuss the matter, I’ve been making some notes.”

Bedford later told the story this way:

“Across the top of the page was written, ‘Points in favor of Mr. _______.’ There followed a long list of the man’s virtues, including a brief description of how he had helped the company make the right decision on three separate occasions that had earned many times the cost of his recent error.

“I never forgot that lesson. In later years, whenever I was tempted to rip into anyone, I forced myself first to sit down and thoughtfully compile as long a list of good points as I possibly could. Invariably, by the time I finished my inventory, I would see the matter in its true perspective and keep my temper under control. There is no telling how many times this habit has prevented me from committing one of the costliest mistakes any executive can make — losing his temper.

“I commend it to anyone who must deal with people.”

Bits & Pieces

, September 15, 1994, pp. 11-13.

Stuck in an alternate Universe

     I left off with being stuck in an alternate universe in my last post, and that’s exactly how it was.  Stuck.  There I was looking in the windows of storefront panes, dirty, scraggly, a caricature of someone vaguely familiar.  Sleeping wherever I could find a place I wouldn’t be hasseled by the cops when it was warm enough to sleep out, and fighting for space in a shelter that contained double bunks for maybe a couple hundred men when it wasn’t.  When you’re standing in the midst of a sea of men the odds of catching a bunk aren’t very good, and when you’re unlucky, which I was; you don’t catch many.  On the rare occasions when I actually got one, it was better than being outside, but not by much.  I may have gotten a bunk on occasion, but I was never lucky enough to get the top bunk.  Try sleeping underneath someone who weighs a hundred pounds more than the bunk’s capacity, snores with the reverberation of thunder clapping, and tries to use your head as a footstool.  It’s like’s trying to sleep underneath an elephant.  You wouldn’t think I’d have run into that very much, but you’d be surprised.  I told you I was unlucky.:)

     If I didn’t get that, I got the guy sleeping across from me that looked like Charles Manson; who’d look at me with insentient eyes, and make chirping noises at me all night.  More than once I caught people rifling through the little bit of stuff I may have managed to scrape together, and if you made a problem out of it the shelter would promptly kick you out, and it didn’t matter who started it.  I spent the majority of nights outside, and the cold ones were spent cowering anyplace I could find that would break the wind shivering uncontrollably.  There’s no such place as comfortable or safe in the alternate universe.

     Have you ever been hurt so bad that you couldn’t lay still.  I was like that.  I couldn’t change the reality I lived in, but I moved around a lot.   I didn’t know it at the time but it was moving around in the alternate universe that opened a door within it.