Most of the time, the work we do as individuals or clinicians involves one or more of these concepts. Many of the people I work with have a hard time with the concept of forgiveness. Many believe it means “forgetting”. Others think it means allowing someone to hurt them again. Still others think that by not forgiving s, they are “getting even” or punishing the person who hurt them.The Bible teaches, forgiveness is simply giving up our right to “get even”. Through Christ, God forgave our sins so that we could be reconciled to Him. He gave up his right to get even with us for sinning against Him. Forgiveness is not about forgetting, it is about moving on. It is not about allowing bad things to continue to happen. That’s a boundaries issue. Good boundaries help a person stay protected. Too many times, the people we chose not to forgive don’t even know, much less care. The only person that truly benefits from forgiveness is the one doing the forgiving. Making the choice to forgive, allows a person to move on, learning from the mistakes and the pain from the past and letting them drop away. Many people believe that forgiveness requires reconciliation, but reconciliation is a separate issue and is not always possible or appropriate.
Reconciliation is about the restoration of relationship. True reconciliation can not happen without forgiveness. Many relationships continue on without forgiveness, but they become more and more emotionally distant. Sometimes reconciliation cannot happen because the person who needs to be forgiven has passed away. Other times reconciliation is simply inappropriate for safety or logistical reasons. All relationships have differing levels of emotional intimacy, but those that are close, have learned the real power of forgiveness.
Love is probably the most written about concept in literature. The Bible describes the attributes of love and provides endless examples of how love is expressed and used. Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled defines love as “The effort-full extension of yourself for your own or someone else’s benefit”. This definition is notable for two reasons. It says we get to love ourselves (something our culture doesn’t always endorse but Scripture acknowledges), and it is not about emotion. Often love gets confused with giving what someone wants. Remember, Love is doing what’s best for someone, not necessary giving a person what they want. The feeling of love is often a byproduct of the choice to love, but is not what I’m talking about in this discussion. The love I’m talking about is an “action verb”. It means doing what is needed for ourselves or others even if it’s inconvenient, likely to cause conflict, or simply go unnoticed. Scripture calls this Love the most powerful force of all.
This is a very short and incomplete snapshot of these topics. But today, let’s look around and chose to forgive those who have hurt us. Reconcile relationships where it’s appropriate. But most of all, bathe those we know in Love. This can be a tall order filled with conflicting emotions and other complicated stuff. If you need help, give us a call. You will find help at Hope Counseling Center 907-451-8208
Helping People ~ Healing Families