on forgiveness: Part 1

This two minute video on forgiveness is profound… I hope you will watch it.

Here is a summary of the process Dan describes:

First, let me define “forgiveness” in 2 parts. The first part of forgiveness is canceling the debt some owes you for harm done to you. This is what God’s forgiveness is for us- The cost of our sin to God’s holiness and purity is infinite, therefore, we in turn owe a debt that is that is immeasurable and infinite. This debt demands an eternal, infinite payment… And this is grace: Jesus, being God in the flesh, took our debt upon himself and paid the debt for us. That is the *gift* He offers to us. Freedom from debt. And not only does he remove our punishment, but he *blesses us* with adoption- we are welcomed into God’s family as *sons and daughters*. That is the second part of forgiveness: a desire for goodness to come to the other, and an active movement to bless (Dan’s words).

Forgiveness may seem more clear, when simply defined in the above 2 parts. However the *process* is not simply, or easy, or completed in a moment with mere words, “I forgive you.” (Is that what we teach our children, and we ourselves have believed? One kid pushes another on the playground. An adult steps in, instructs the offending child to say, “I’m sorry” and the offended to say, “I forgive you.” And it’s neat and clean and DONE… then go off to play as before. And then in adulthood, when it doesn’t happen this way, do we question what is wrong with us? Why can’t we forgive, especially when God has forgiven us, instructs us to forgive others, and promises the power of the Spirit to guide us.

I think in the breakdown of the process of forgiveness as DA describes, we’ll see that we often road block at the very first step, and abandon the task altogether, often resorting to a *socially acceptable* form of contempt- *avoidance*. In refusing the painful process of forgiveness, all thoughts of harm are swept under the rug, and as DA says, “Your enemy becomes one you don’t see, and literally you cast them away from your eyes.”

The steps are: 1) Name the Wound; 2) Remember God’s forgiveness toward you; 3) Step into the War. (I will discuss each step in one blog post at a time. Here is part one:

1. Step 1: Name the Wound

The first step in forgiveness may very well be the hardest and most painful. When we’ve been harmed by another, we need to *name the wound*, face the heartache, and understand the particularities of the cost it’s been to us- our bodies, our being, our relationships.

However, we tend to minimize it, over-look it, “sweep it under the rug”, as I described above, and “move on”. This is a not true forgiveness. Can I pose the question- is much of what we consider “forgiveness” merely a counterfeit of what God truly desires from our hearts?

“You cannot forgive what you have not faced. The harm is almost always deeper than you have allowed yourself to name. Will you face the consequences of harm done to you?” (DA)

This happens over time.

I recently read a letter that C.S Lewis wrote in 1963, near the end of his life, about the difficulty of forgiveness: “Do you know, only a few weeks ago I realized suddenly that I at last had forgiven the cruel schoolmaster who so darkened my childhood. I’d been trying to do it for years: and like you, each time I thought I’d done it, I found, after a week or so it all had to be attempted over again.”

Sometimes forgiveness is a journey that takes a life time.

If forgiveness, by definition is canceling the debt owed to you… and to forgive you must understand what the debt is, this means you must *enter your own heartache for the wound that was caused you… and you must enter into the anger for this wound… THEN you can cancel the debt in truth. Again, this is not done easily. Clearly, this requires a high degree of felt pain… and this is why it may be a slow journey.

The question may arise- how exactly do we enter into the heartache and pain of the wound? Especially, given that we instinctively, unwittingly shield ourselves from such pain. I personally found that processing in a safe group with other people (specifically at the first group session of the Allender Center counseling certificate in Seattle) was essential.

Sharing our stories of harm in a group setting is helpful because it reveals where our hearts have turned against ourselves with accusations of being “dumb” or “overreacting” or “foolish” or whatever it is we tell ourselves as a reason that the harm is not significant. We can never see our own face, we automatically bring so much judgement… We need other people to see our face… to see the pain, and reflect the truth of the pain back to us. In my own experience, it was revelatory to see the faces of other people in reaction to my own story, and to see their compassion. At first, I could borrow from them that compassion for myself, then make it my own.

It was powerful for people to say, “the cost of the harm done to you has been *high*“... It was in the presence of others that God showed me areas of my heart that held contempt for myself, and then opened my heart in compassion and grief. And finally, I understood, in greater totality, the debt I am called to cancel. As Dan says, this is a high privilege, and in no other arena are we closer to the heart of God.

{if you were intrigued by the first 2 minute video, here is a 14 minute interview discussing forgiveness that fleshes out more of the ideas: “Forgiveness: Unpacking the Confusion }

a child shall lead them

this morning as I was getting ready for the day, Jeremiah thoughtfully said, “Jesus took away our sins… and sins are disobeying… How does that make God feel when we disobey?”  I replied, “It makes God feel sad, but He forgives us.”   To which Jeremiah’s face brightened and exclaimed, “AND He loves us!”

Yes. “Spirituality” is that simple:  1) We are sinners; 2) Jesus took away our sins (when He died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself, stood in our place and bore the full penalty FOR us, *instead* of us; 3) Now God forgives us AND loves us.

The Bible says to not err from the simplicity of Christ.

This is why it says that to receive the Kingdom of God, we must receive it like a child.

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. ~ Mark 10:15

Children are naturally needy, and they happily accept help and provision. They accept the care of their earthly father, (and mother), and simply enjoy being taken care of.  *We* must allow ourselves to be needy before God- as sinners who *cannot save ourselves*, and simply, happily except the help He offers in Jesus… who offers to stand in our place and take the penalty of death.

If salvation and going to Heaven is that simple, that easy, that FREE (We’re sinners, and God did ALL the work Himself to free us), then why does the Bible say that “few” find the way, and that “in that day there will be *many* who say to me, Lord, Lord” and I will say I never knew you”? (Matthew 7)

It’s because people err at the first point. The Gift of God is free. But people don’t think they need the gift. So, in their pride they turn their backs on God’s free gift of grace. People don’t accept the truth that they are sinners, deserving hell, and needing a Savior.

Instead, people believe they can save themselves. People believe that they are “good” enough for God to accept… and as for their faults, they think that God is loving and forgiving and so He will overlook their minor flaws in light of how *good* they truly are.

That’s simply an evil lie. God IS loving and forgiving, but He is also equally *Just* and *Holy*. God will not overlook sin, because He is a *just and perfect Judge*. In God’s court of law, a guilty verdict must have it’s due penalty.  It is *through* Jesus that God is loving and forgiving. Our sin was so evil in His Holy sight that He put to death His very Son in our place.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ~ John 3:36

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ~ 1 John 5:12

Your sin *will* be paid for: either by *you* in eternal death in hell, or by Jesus on the cross, if you accept His free gift.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… ~ Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.~ Romans 6:23

The Gift is given to the one *who does not work* to earn God’s favor… If you approach God based on *your own perceived goodness* He will give you your due. That is a fearful thought.

For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” ~ Romans 4:2-8


A story of redemption ~ by “Anonymous” (I am so honored to share!)

1 John 1:9 ~ If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Think about that one… If we confess our sins, he forgives… Wow! What an amazing GOD we have to be able to take the pain and unrighteousness away!

Many years ago, I was that young lady walking into Planned Parenthood… Yep, I said it. That was me–––I was that girl. I walked into a place that I thought was a woman’s health care center. I was taught that it is the place you go in order to stay healthy, you get your physicals there, birth control, all of it, and since I was low-income with no insurance that’s what was recommend for me.

I remember finding out that I was pregnant. The shock, the horror and the tiny piece inside of me that was ecstatic. My mother, wanted me to go get tested so she took me to Planned Parenthood and it was confirmed. Soon I was in a separate room with the doctor, who right away asked me if I wanted to abort and she felt that was the best situation for me. I was given a week to decide.

AFor one whole week, I pondered. When you have the media, schools, clinics, family, and friends telling you that it is all right, that it is your choice and that you have that right as a woman. You believe it. You have nothing else to back it up. Even the little voice that says it’s not okay is hidden behind the woman’s rights. So, I did it…

I said goodbye to a part of me that I was told wasn’t even alive, that it was just tissue. I remember the pain, the tears, the cramping. Blood, so much blood for weeks. I remember the loss and it became so unbearable that suicide was the next best thing. I remember sitting there on the porch with three pill bottles of pain meds, writing in my journal of all MY pain–––then I’d take another pill, and another one, and another one until they were all gone and sleep came. But what I really wanted was peace and forgiveness!

I woke up the next day. I woke up. Yes, with the worst hangover of my life but I woke up. My heart, even though it hurt, along with my head, and of course my body from being crouched like I was, it was beating. I knew then that GOD had plans that I couldn’t even begin to understand. I asked for forgiveness to a GOD that I knew had to be real.

Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

God healed me. And now looking back, I know I had more options. I know that I could have saved my baby and given him or her to a glorious couple. But without morals, without god, who can sin? If you don’t know god and you’re taught that it is okay or you’re pressured into it you don’t realize what your doing is actually wrong because everybody tells you how right it is. That is my point… I have learned through GOD, Yahweh that I have no rights to this body that which he gave me a vessel, and my body is for Him. I don’t have that right to pick and choose what life is to live and what is to die. That is his right alone. I know that He has forgiven me, and He has so much love that it burst out of my pores. I ask of you, if you have ever made that horrible choice- to abort your baby, ask God for forgiveness… and forgive others. I have received forgiveness from my Heavenly Father, as well as forgiven myself, and those around me. I also, forgive you too.
Matthew writes, for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. –––So I have.
He’s always waiting, wanting, to be part of your life. Allow yourself peace.

I’ll part with this…

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come!

God has cleansed my spirit. Has forgiven my sins and will always continue to hold me in his arms. I am thankful that I have Him in my life. If you are… someone like me, know…you are not alone. If you need too… reach out to Catherine who has wonderful healing words. May GOD bless you and give you the courage to speak out.

~Anonymous

For post-abortive support check out: http://www.healinghearts.org/