Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The freedom of forgiveness

We hear a lot about the need to forgive, about how forgiveness is not about the other person but about you and how when you forgive someone it frees something in you. I had heard this many times from people, books, TV shows, sermons, I practised forgiving others in the past and I had been forgiven. But this morning I learnt about forgiveness at a new level, this morning I not only forgave an old friend but I owned my actions and asked for her forgiveness then I forgave myself.

When we argue in our relationships, particularly our friendships, it can be very easy to point the finger, to get defensive and walk away. It can be easy to justify with comments like "this season of friendship is done", "we aren't in the same stage anymore, we've grown apart", "I'm giving and not receiving" and some of those comments are true and sometimes we really are told to walk away but sometimes we are asked to heal the wound.. 

Sometimes we are asked to own our actions and say sorry for them. Sometimes we need to take a moment to realise that we have used our words and actions to hurt just as much as we've been hurt. To realise that we were being selfish or defensive or spoilt. Sometimes we were just not thinking. Sometimes we were taking our day out on our friends and if they had found us on any other day the comment that started the fight would have rolled off our backs, forgotten before the end of the conversation. Sometimes we realise that the reason we reacted so strongly is because we weren't honest about our actual needs and feelings, because we didn't actually address the little thing that has been bothering us continually for 2 weeks.. Sometimes when we look at our actions we realise that we were just as much to blame..

Sometimes it's important to take a moment to appreciate the "I" and "me", the "what I need", the "what I'm not getting" part of the conversation because sometimes when we do that we realise that we are asking or worse expecting the other person to give us something that they can't give. Sometimes we seek something from them that we actually need to get from somewhere else and then we realise that we have been unfair.. Sometimes we realise that in fact their words were true and that we need to make a change and that our reaction was extreme because our precious egos were offended, because we don't want to accept what we know is true..  Sometimes the "I" and "me" gets in the way of truth and love and growth. Sometimes we need to put down the "I" and "me" and instead focus on the "us".. Sometimes that means saying "I'm sorry". Not "I'm sorry but you", just "I'm sorry".

I think owning our actions, emotions and needs is important in all situations but particularly in our arguments. Owning these things doesn't mean that you dismiss the hurt and pain or that you allow people to walk all over you but it means recognising what is you, looking at what's left and then basing your reactions on the actual situation. Sometimes you are not going to like the version of yourself you see.. It is really easy to feel guilty and like a bad person (particularly when you realise that a massive chunk of the argument was you :s) and it's tempting to take all of the blame and to go from beating the other person up to beating yourself up but that's not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is about forgiving everyone including you. You can't change the past and who you were but you can change the present and who you are and you can change who you will be in the future. Today I have learnt that forgiveness is a complete circle and that once you have owned your actions and emotions and forgiven the other person it is really important to complete the forgiveness process by forgiving yourself.

I pray that we will search our hearts for those people and moments that need forgiveness, in your mind they may not be big moments but they sure do weigh a lot and when you take a moment to forgive one of those moments completely then you will be lighter, happier and a little more whole xx

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