Saturday, January 24, 2009

What Does It Really Mean to Forgive Someone?

Ever wonder if that apology you made to someone is really sincere or that the person truly forgave you? Perhaps there is someone in your life that you have held a grudge against for whatever reason and from time to time you keep remembering that grudge is the only thing standing between you and that person from resuming your relationship? Perhaps it's a family member that has hurt you on an emotional, physical or mental level. Do you realize that the longer you hold that in, your health continues to deteriorate?

We are not meant to hold life long grudges against people and even if people sincerely apologize, sometimes they are not forgiven by that person because too much time has passed. Too often these are relationships that need some healing, that cause a wound within our lives that is crying out to be healed, but instead, we tell that voice to be quiet, or ignore it completely, and continue to bury that feeling ever deeper.

Here are some steps to help you with that process. Even for me, occasionally I think about the relationship I had with my dad that has prevented me from talking to him for more than 13+ years now. It's been so long my current hubby, Steve, has never even met him. The one thing I need to do before it's too late is resolve my side of this disagreement, and here's how:

1. The person who offended this argument or disagreement, must be the first one to make the first move. It's not the offendeds turn to come to you. It will not be erased from you until you do your part. You will need to do what is right and leave the results to God to deal with.

2. God is honored by immediate obedience. The person could die while you wait and you don't want to live with the guilt and regret for the rest of your lives. So reach out to them as quickly as you can.

3. Others are healed by a vulnerable and honest confession. Healing awaits that confession of wrong doing. Even people that were not impacted initially by this are touched by your sincere apology.

4. If you aren't sure if you have any past issues to deal with, ask God to show them to you and listen to your heart to address any areas of your life or your past. Then Go and Immediately deal with them. Seek forgiveness for your past behavior.

5. Start immediately without any rationalization. Stop making excuses for why you conducted yourself that way. You had a wrong nature, and don't put it off or pass it off on others. It's easy to make excuses on things that are difficult.

6. Return completely with reservation. You need to have a heart breaking admission of guilt. Your repentance is incomplete when you are holding something back or have other agendas for doing this. It is a difficult thing to do especially when time has passed. It will hurt, but it's necessary.

7. Repent without hesitation. Hold nothing back, and put your pride in your pocket. Seek legitimate forgiveness. It will benefit all your relationships in your life, even if they are not affected by this. It will make you feel like a new person.

8. Realize, that there may not be an immediate forgiveness towards you. Let God deal with that end and work on their heart. As long as you have done your part, it's all God can ask.

9. If we don't forgive someone who seeks forgiveness from us, remember that God will not forgive us when we seek the same from him. Jesus told us that we are to forgive a total of seventy times seven if someone asks. Which means if they ask, and we forgive them, we are to forget it like God does. It may last within our memory but we should be willing to move forward in the relationship. If it's difficult, ask God to help you deal with that part of it.

I hope you get something from this message and I will update you on how it goes with my own forgiveness story with my father in a future blog. My goal is to not wait until it's too late and I may not have tomorrow to do it!

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