The Process of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is essential to our spiritual well-being. Unforgiveness poisons our soul and does nothing to hurt the one we don’t want to forgive. In fact, some people who hurt us may not be aware they have done so.

Forgiveness can be a difficult and painful process. The process I will outline for you below will take time. I assure you, if you are open to it and the power of the Holy Spirit, it can be life giving and life changing. But, that’s up to you and the Holy Spirit.

  • Get a notebook or a journal and a pen or pencil.
  • Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Breathe deeply and relax.
  • Ask God to help you with this process.
  • When you are ready, go all the way back to your earliest memory of being hurt.
  • Write down the person’s name and the offense. Don’t be superficial or try to judge if your hurt was that serious.
  • Repeat the process up until the present time.
  • If it’s helpful, split the list by:
  • Phase of life or age range
  • Place of work
  • Do this in whatever way is most meaningful for you. Expect this to take some time. It’s a process.
  • When you think your list is complete, walk away for a bit. Then go back over the list. Ask God if you’ve forgotten anyone.
  • Go back to the first name you wrote down.
  • Talk to the Lord about your hurt.
  • If you are ready to forgive them, then tell Jesus you forgive that person.
  • If you are not yet ready, ask Jesus to help you. You may have some barrier.
  • Pray the Our Father. Pay attention to the words ‘as we.’ (Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us). Note that we are only forgiven inasmuch as we forgive others.
  • Go to the next name on the list. Repeat the process above, making any notes you feel are important about how the forgiveness process went, highlighting the ones you are having difficulty forgiving.
  • Note that forgiveness sometimes comes in layers. The hurt may need to be ‘peeled away’ layer by layer until the memory of the person or the hurt no longer gets a negative internal reaction.

Copyright © 2018 by Theresa M. Williams

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As we forgive those who trespass against us (OF8)

On January 29, 2015, I wrote about the Our Father’s ‘as we.’ I stated that if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven; we will be forgiven only as we forgive. Here’s the link:

https://fromagnostictodeacon.com/2015/01/29/the-our-father-as-we/.

Forgiveness of others doesn’t mean that what they did doesn’t matter; it doesn’t minimize their wrong. Forgiving removes us from the emotional entanglement. We let God handle it and allow ourselves to heal from the hurt. Forgiving can be a very difficult thing to do. Even when we ask for God’s help, it can still be difficult, but if we ask Him sincerely, He will help us through those painful steps. Even if all you can do is to say ‘God I need to forgive this person, but I don’t know how,’ that can be an important first step.

Some time ago, my spiritual director had me write down a list of the people who hurt me that I needed to forgive. It turned out to be a pretty long list! She asked me to talk to God about those people and situations. I was to forgive them and explore any emotions that arose as a result. This process took quite some time. In fact, it would be good for me to see when that list was dated and make a list of people since then that I need to forgive.

Forgiveness is an ongoing activity until the day we die. We are fallible human beings who hurt others and who get hurt. We can feel ‘broken’ and bruised by what life, and other people, throw our way. To begin healing our brokenness, we need to pray and forgive. See my blog entry on April 18, 2015, entitled “woundedness, resentment, forgiveness, and healing”: https://fromagnostictodeacon.com/2015/04/18/woundedness-resentment-unforgiveness-and-healing/. With God’s help, forgiveness becomes possible.
Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

And Forgive Us Our Trespasses (OF7)

This phrase’s meaning seems pretty obvious. “Hey Lord, I messed up. I’m sorry, and I promise to do better with Your help. Please forgive me.” I am reminded of a scripture passage that sums up our human spiritual struggle pretty well (Romans 7:15 NRSV): “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

The Lord is merciful and forgiving. Once we repent, do we forgive ourselves and then strive to do better? Or do we beat ourselves up about what we’ve done wrong? Do we believe the Lord won’t or didn’t really forgive us? Do we ask the Lord for His help and accept that help for us to do better? Do we believe He will help us? Do we strive to do better or are we lazy about it?

You may wonder why I’m asking all these questions. We met someone a few months ago who was struggling with these very issues. She felt guilty about how she had lived her life. In fact, she thought she messed it up so bad, how could the Lord possibly forgive her? She couldn’t/wouldn’t ask for forgiveness much less forgive herself for how she lived her life and the mistakes she had made. It was to the point where our words of encouragement and scripture suggestions didn’t penetrate her heart. She was caught in the web of Satan’s lies. He was keeping her in bondage by the lies on forgiveness, but Satan was also feeding her the lie that she and her actions weren’t even worthy of forgiveness. She lost her job, her husband through divorce, and she was very miserable. She had tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide. It was very sad. She had no hope.

I leave you with this scripture: 1 Peter 5:8 (NRSV): Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. The devil would love to use your unforgiveness of yourself and turn it into that roaring lion. Don’t let the devil get that foothold in your life.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Intro to the Our Father

The Our Father Prayer

Our Father who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name;
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.

I am going to unpack the Our Father (OF) prayer piece by piece in the following posts. The Our Father is such a familiar prayer, I think at times we don’t always stop to think about what we’re saying. I know my mind sometimes wanders, and maybe yours does too. I hope these posts bring more meaning (for you) to this beautiful prayer.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The Our Father ‘as we’

How many times do we fluff over the words ‘as we’ in the Our Father–forgive us our trespasses ‘as we’ forgive those who trespass against us? Jesus is telling us that if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven; we will be forgiven only as we forgive. Are we quick to forgive? Do we hold a grudge? One of our retreat masters asked us this question: What would we say to Jesus at judgment day if our offender is standing in front of Jesus and Jesus turns to us and asks us if He should let that person into heaven? What would our response be? Would we be forgiving and allow them in? It is something to think about. Who do we need to forgive?

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams