Sunday, October 21, 2012

31 Days :: Preparing Your Heart with the 4 Steps of Forgiveness - Day 21

Yesterday we talked about making plans ahead of time to forgive, but how do we actually work through the process?  Here's how I learned the steps crucial to forgiving via my own experience...

A few years ago a situation came up that was quite hurtful.  I was struggling with distancing myself from a couple of negative relationships and knew that a change needed to be made, but because family was involved I put off that decision.  I could see these two were struggling and I wanted to help, but instead of honoring my own boundaries I offered assistance, support and all-available access whenever a need appeared (...which seemed to be quite often).  

By the way...if you're in a situation where giving is always one-sided and you're trying to be "all-available" to help during times of continual chaos, then the relationship has become an unbalanced one and not good for either party.  Sad to say, I ignored my intuition and things escalated, which resulted in massive betrayal and a feeling of unsafeness like I had never known before.  Warning...people who are using you don't really like it when healthy boundaries are set, tend to get offended and then call you the horrible one for setting them (; Just keep moving forward and set those boundaries.

I have to admit, it took me a while to let go.  My heart was broken in a million pieces and I was hurt on a level I couldn't even fathom.  That's when I realized that forgiveness is something for which we need to plan ahead.  When hurts happen, forgiveness is the last thing on our minds and NEVER the first thing we want to do.  But if we choose to reach for forgiveness first, we're opening the door for those hurts to be healed.

1) Acknowledge the pain...
Be honest with yourself about what happened. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation or condoning what happened, it simply releases the hold on your heart so healing can begin.

2) Change your perspective...
Sometimes people think forgiveness means letting the offender off the hook.  Instead imagine forgiveness as an act of personal power.  Requiring someone else to be responsible for healing your pain gives them tremendous control over your life.  Allow God to heal the brokenness and step into His grace which will bless every other area of your life.

3) Release the situation and affirm the healing of your heart...
When we've been wounded, that hurt can sometimes linger.  Places, situations and even smells can bring up past emotions and if we aren't training our minds to focus on the good, then it's easy to fall back into those old feelings of pain.  We want to give our minds something to latch onto so it doesn't snap back into automatic mode.  Throughout the day say the following...
  • I am healed, happy, whole and blessed
  • I am filled with peace about this situation and release it
I may feel a little goofy at first, but having faith that God is taking care of the situation activates His power and frees us from the worry of trying to handle everything alone.  These simple affirmations spotlight the positive and keep us moving forward.

4) Bless those who have hurt you...
Okay, now this is the tough one...Say a prayer of blessing each day for the ones who have hurt you. 

"What??!!  I've acknowledged the pain, made the choice to forgive, released the situation and I'm even saying those goofy affirmations, but now you want me to bless the jerks who took my heart and shredded it?!!!" 

In one word...Yep.

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."  Luke 6:27-28

See, something magical happens when we take action to do something good for someone who has hurt us.  It begins to flood our soul with peace and changes how we feel about that person and the experience. Saying a prayer each day for those not-so-nice people in our lives associates something good with their memory and renews our attitude towards the situation which brings an even greater level of healing.  What we offer to the world is offered to us.  If we offer a blessing, then we'll be blessed.

This doesn't mean that you bake them cookies, send care packages or invite them over for dinner...we're not even talking about allowing the offender back in your life at this point.  That might or might not be the thing to do in time, but right now were are offering blessings so we can associate different thoughts with these individuals.

Have you ever been so mad at someone or something that the very mention of their name or topic gets your blood boiling?  Without even realizing it we're giving away our power.  We're wanting to take those painful moments and give them a new focus so restoration can take place.

It's not easy and can be one of the most challenging experiences to go through, but by putting these 4 Steps of Forgiveness into motion, it sets up our hearts for healing and can free us from anchors we never realized were there.

I hope you'll continue to join us for Day 22 of our 31 Days of Preparation journey.  Enter your email below and each post will automatically be delivered to your inbox.  Don't forget to stop by the many other 31 Dayers for additional inspiration!

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In Gratitude,

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