Forgiveness: Love’s Litmus Test


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There are two options for the practical tip this week. The first is for those who are aware of someone in their life who has hurt them but you struggle with forgiving them. The second is for everyone else.

Many of us have been hurt significantly sometime in our life. In some cases, the other person is very sorry, asks our forgiveness and wants to make amends. We are often able to respond by forgiving them. The relationship then either restarts or we go our separate ways, but without a lot of antagonism. In other cases, something gets in the way of resolving the problem. Maybe the other person doesn’t think that they did anything wrong, or that you simply shouldn’t think that it is such a big deal. Maybe your pain is simply too great. Maybe other people are involved and complicating the situation. In any event, whenever this person’s name is mentioned or something jogs your memory of the situation, your pain comes to mind and you know that you are not at peace with the other person.

If this describes you, we suggest that you find someone to whom you can tell yourPasted image at 2015_12_22 11_28 AM
story. This could be anyone willing to listen to you, but it would be helpful if it were someone who could accompany you in this issue for awhile. This probably means a close, long-standing friend, a small group member or leader, a spiritual director, counselor, or a member of our church’s pastoral team.

After you have done this, maybe in a second meeting, we suggest that you describe the hurt that you experienced at the time and how it still hurts. It would be helpful if the person listening could listen without judging you or the person who hurt you, but could help you describe your hurt even better than you thought you could. As you work through your experienced hurt, it’s okay to ask the questions that you have probably had from time to time. Why did this happen? Why did God allow it to happen? Where is God now? Where is justice, healing, reconciliation? You might take some notes as you ask these questions. Is there any way to involve God more directly in them? With your sharing partner, you might take a few minutes of silence to ponder your questions in the presence of God. Make note of any sense of his presence or response to your questions, or even just how God is being towards you during this time. You might schedule a third meeting with your sharing partner to further discuss your situation and possible ways forward.

For those of us who cannot recall anyone whom we haven’t been able to forgive for some wrong done to us, you might consider doing a Discovery Bible Study on Luke 6:27-36.

  1. The first part is to write out the Scripture passage: But to you who are listening, I say: ….
  2. The second part is to write down what this passage means to you in your own words.
  3. The third part is to write out what you sense you should do to obey the words of Jesus in the passage.
  4. After you have done this third step, write down what you think has kept you from doing these things in the past. You might consider sharing what you have written in this step with a friend. You might also spend some time with God talking about the things that you feel you should be doing, as well as the obstacles that you experience.

Feel free to share your experience with others who have also tried this prayer exercise by commenting below or emailing:

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