Monday, December 16, 2013

TRUE FORGIVENESS - from When Lost Men Come Home


True forgiveness can only be given and received; it cannot be earned or demanded. True forgiveness does not condone, excuse or minimize wrongdoing. True forgiveness looks directly at the wrong and wrongdoer, knowing full well the impact of the wrongdoer’s actions, recognizes them for who and what they are, and offers the offender the mercy and grace of a restored, but changed relationship. Both giving and receiving forgiveness is an act of humility. People who really forgive look upon others, even the most disturbing, and see them as someone whom God loves and cares for. People who forgive honor God by honoring all people with esteem, respect and love, no matter how undeserving they may be.

This does not mean that all our relationships with others will be as they were before. In all likelihood, our relationships with others, while hopefully reconciled, will be changed forever due to boundaries, which other people will require as we move back into relationship with them. We may never again experience the freedom with them we had before. We may never enjoy certain relationships as we have enjoyed them in the past. We may never again have the unmitigated trust of our families. Others, for understandable reasons, will set boundaries on us. It is important we recognize these limits are a direct result of the pain and hurt we have caused. We are responsible
for our pain and for making things right wherever we can. We should accept these limitations respectfully. We respect the lives of others in the same way we hope to be respected in the future.

It is not until we love a person in all his ugliness that we can make him beautiful, or ourselves either.

Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat pg 42

At times, I struggled to forgive those who had hurt me, so I prayed for them. I found praying for them helped me to move beyond the resentments that blocked my growth and recovery. I prayed God would give them hope for their life, help for their difficulties, grace for their struggles, and courage to live abundantly. I prayed for them in the same way I prayed for myself. As I prayed for others in this way, I realized that any entitlement I felt about others forgiving me made any forgiveness I receive meaningless. Entitlement reduces forgiveness to foul, codependent, shallow and graceless appeasement. And I am sure you will agree with me that this is not what we want. Feeling appeased will not help us recover. We need to recover from our addiction, and helping others heal from the damage we caused is our responsibility — regardless of any damage, others may have done to us. Period!


Now you can have sincere love for each other as brothers and sisters because you were cleansed from your sins when you accepted the truth of the Good News. So see to it that you really do love each other intensely with all your hearts.

I Peter 1:22 MSG

Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Philippians 2:3 MSG

And just as others may place boundaries for us, we may need to establish boundaries for others. When others have done inexcusable things to us, we need to recognize these things for the inexcusable things they are. We should discuss them with our sponsor and our counselor. Their guidance will give us needed insight to make important decisions about what kind of relationships we want and what kind of boundaries need to be in place so our relationships will be safe and sane and healthy going forward.

We need not ever excuse inexcusable acts that people may do, but we do need to forgive people because forgiveness is essential for life. This is essential for both offender and victim to have a healthier and happier life ahead. For our part, we must be careful not to ask God or others for "forgiveness" when we are really asking to be excused for our wrongdoing. Wrongdoing is not an accident. Accidents can be excused, but selfish people who do selfish things need forgiveness. Sincerely asking for forgiveness is an act of repentance. And repentance does not debate, it does not bargain, and it never rationalizes or makes excuses. When confronted about our wrongdoing, we never dispute the facts. We let the charges and criticisms be what they are. Asking for forgiveness

Occasionally, the anger and resentment I felt for this person come back. But today I diligently work to let go of any remaining resentment I feel. While I have no real relationship with this person, today my attitude toward him, myself, and my family history has radically improved. I am much more honest about how things were for me growing up. I no longer make excuses for my family or for myself. Things simply were the way they were and they are the way they are. My hope is that someday things may change between this person and myself, that we can have a healthy family relationship. I also hope this person will one day see that my life and values are worth appreciating. However, moving forward and trusting God’s plan for my life, I remind myself that this person’s attitude toward me is none of my business. It is between him and God. I can hope for forgiveness but I am never entitled to it.

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only  ~ Copyright David Zailer, 2011

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