Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to Forgive: See the Silver Lining

 How to Forgive: See the Silver Lining

How to Forgive: See the Silver Lining

We are looking at how to forgive. Not an easy task! So far we’ve looked at three ideas:

  1. Make a heroic choice
  2. Set boundaries (two posts)
  3. Reframe the offense
I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback and people are sharing the posts with friends who need to forgive and be forgiven. I love seeing this happen.
Today I want to continue talking about reframing the offense. To reframe the offense means to see the offense from a new perspective. There are many ways to do this…many more than I will take time to discuss here. In the last post I suggested seeing your offense through the eyes of humility. This means that you see the offense with the understanding that you are capable of doing the same thing, or as I said, seeing the “Nazi” inside of you.

How to Forgive: See the Silver Lining

Another way to reframe your offense is to see the silver lining…see how God might use it for good.  The thought of God using evil for good might be repulsive. But that’s only if God caused evil for good. That’s perverse.  But if God takes evil and brings good out of it, that’s beautiful. The Bible is clear that God actively works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

We see this in the Bible with the apostle Paul. When he wrote to the Philippian church he was in jail facing death.  Now, when you hear the word “jail”,  don’t think modern 21st century jail. Think rat infested dungeon with no toilets and moldy food…on a good day. If that was your situation what would you write home about? This is what he told his friends…

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly. Philippians 1:12-14

If I was in that jail I don’t know if I’d be worried about advancing the message of God or encouraging other people. I’d be complaining about the rats, the food and the government and begging for someone to rescue me…fast.

Paul was able to see the silver lining…the positive in his experience…which enabled him to move beyond the offense and forgive his offenders.   Paul reframed his situation. He was able to rise 30,000 feet in the air and look down on this imprisonment from God’s point of view.  And because of that ability he says he rejoiced (see verse 18).

Forgiveness is a Choice

Reframing is a choice. You can dwell on your offense, insist that it has marred you for life and complain about it or you can trust that God will use it for good and move on. Victim or Victor. Your choice.

Question: How have you been able to reframe a past offense and see the good? Leave your comment below.

If you find these posts helpful please forward them on Facebook and subscribe to this blog.

  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

How to Forgive: There is a Nazi in you.

This continues my series on How  to Forgive. Be sure to read the earlier posts by clicking on the links.

So far we’ve seen that to forgive it involves making a heroic choice. It also involces setting boundaries to give yourself emotional space.

The third thing you can do to forgive is reframe the offense. This means you look at it from a new perspective. There are a few ways to do this. Let me give you two; one today and  one on Wednesday.

How to Forgive: Remember There is a Nazi in You

The first way you can reframe your offense is to realize that you are capable of doing any evil that’s been done to you. The word for this is humility.

For example, I read a story of two women who were in a Nazi concentration camp. They were walking through the compound and a guard stopped them and started to berate and beat one of the women. The other woman was disgusted with this guard. In her mind she was calling him all kinds of names and wishing terrible things to happen to him.

But as she thought these things a voice in her head said, Remember, there’s also a Nazi in you. Her thoughts were stopped cold. She immediately knew what that meant. It meant that given the same situation as the Nazi, she could have very well turned out like he did.

Your first reaction might be to push back on this thought…to reject it and say, “I would NEVER do that!” But we all have the potential to do horrible things. Thankfully the conditions aren’t right that brings it about.  When you are able to understand this about yourself you will find a new ability to forgive.

Pride Blinds You to the Nazi Within You

The Bible gives an example of the opposite of this attitude with the apostle Peter. In the book of Mark, Jesus had just predicted that his disciples would all betray him and Peter proudly said…Even if all fall away, I will not.  Mark 14:29

Peter was convinced that he was incapable of betrayal. That was for lesser people. He was above that.  He wasn’t in touch with his own inner weakness. He didn’t realize that a Nazi lived inside of him.  But if you read the story Peter not only denied Jesus. He denied Jesus three times.

Humility means that you understand what it is like to be desperately in need of forgiveness and therefore you are willing to offer forgiveness to others. One book says it like this…

Comprehending that you are capable of the same ugliness that you are condemning in another can penetrate a cloud of hatefulness.  To Forgive is Human

If you want to break through your cloud of hatefulness and forgive someone then reframe your offender through the eyes of humility.

Please forward this on Facebook to help others learn how to forgive and move on with their life.

Question: How have you been able to reframe an offense? Leave your comment below.

Adapted from “Forgiven…once and for all”. Subscribe to this blog to receive your free e-book.


How to Forgive: Setting Four Levels of Boundaries

Four Levels of Boundaries

I’m continuing to talk about HOW to forgive… practical advice to get you free of your past and back to building your future. So far I’ve talked about making a heroic choice to forgive and the importance of setting boundaries. Check out those posts.

These posts are adapted from my book STUCK…how to overcome your anger and take back your life.

Today I want to give you a few examples of what boundaries in relationships look like.

Why Boundaries Help You Forgive

Boundaries give you the separation you need to be clearheaded enough to forgive. If you are continually being offended you often get pulled down to the level of your offender. Boundaries identify what is an offense and warns of consequences to people who enter your personal space without your permission. Effective boundaries keep you sane by keeping intruders out of your life.

Four Levels of Boundaries

Here are four levels of boundaries. Pick the one that is appropriate for your offender:

  • Velvet rope – This is what you use with a reasonable person. All you have to do is tell them your concern and they get it. They respect your space and stop offending.
  • Picket fence – This is a little more defined than the rope. There are no gaps in the fence. It’s very clear who you are and who they are.
  • Eight foot cement wall – This is what happens when people don’t get it. You have the conversation and they keep offending so you make it almost impossible to offend you again without a lot of work on their part. When you find them on your side of the wall there is no excuse and they understand that they deserve any consequences promised.
  • Razor Wire and Guard Towers –  You do what you have to do to be safe. You no longer appeal to your offenders good will or assume they are reasonable. Their past behavior has proven that they are untrustworthy and possibly evil and dangerous. Subtlety is out. Clarity is in.  Author Henry Cloud says that some people require “lawyers, guns  and money”, that’s the only way to get their attention and shut down their negative behavior.  Guns, by the way, refer to calling the police when necessary.

This might seem harsh. It might not seem very “Christian”. But to the contrary…Razor Wire and Guard Towers give you the distance you need to be gracious. When you are continually being offended by someone it’s hard to have a good attitude toward them and not want to lash out. These people bring out the worst in us and it’s embarrassing. The best thing you can do for yourself and for them is get the distance you need so you can act rationally and they learn to respect your space.

Subscribe to this blog to learn more. Please share this on Facebook if you found  it helpful.

Question: How might these various levels of boundaries help a current relationship of yours? Leave your comment below.

  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (
  • Moving On From the Hurt (

How To Forgive: Set Boundaries

How to Forgive: Set Boundaries

This is part two in a series on How to Forgive.  In part one I said that you need to BE THE HERO.  The second idea I have for you is to set boundaries. The thought here is that it’s really hard to forgive someone if they are still offending you.

I talked to a couple of people this week that not only had people actively offending them but these people were inciting others to offend them as well (mostly family members). I told them both that they have to get some distance between themselves and these people…they have to bring some separation… otherwise it will be just too hard to forgive. They can’t be listening to these people. They’ll drag them down.

It’s at times like this that you have to immerse yourself in the words of God more than ever. Make sure your worth as a person and your identity comes from God and not what people say about you. This is the topic of my book, Healing the Hurts of Your Past.

You might be in a situation where you are continually offended by the same person in the same way.  No matter how many times you’ve confronted them and forgiven them, they don’t seem to get it – and it’s getting harder and harder to forgive. They just keep hurting you over and over.  What do you do then?  My word of advice for repeat offenders is to set boundaries.

Boundaries give consequences for bad behavior.

People often ask, where are boundaries in the Bible? Let me give you a couple of examples.   The apostle Paul was teaching in a synagogue.

Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him… Acts 19:8,9

Paul gave his heart and soul to these people every day for three months but some people didn’t respect him or his ministry. They trash talked him. Finally, Paul said, “That’s enough. I won’t allow you to speak to me like this anymore.” And then he took action to create space. Any time you see a consequence in the Bible you are seeing boundaries in action.

Another example from Jesus of boundaries is when he told his disciples to “shake the dust off your feet” if people didn’t accept their message. In other words, don’t bear their abuse, just move on to someone who cares.

Are you too nice?

The reason that some of us have so much trouble forgiving is that we allow people to keep messing with us. We are too nice. Many of us justify it by saying that we are Christians and Christians have to be nice. But that’s typically just a cover for your fear of confrontation. Am I right? You are afraid to say anything. But it’s better to say something out of love than be “nice” and have a heart full of hate toward someone. Sit your offender down and say,

What you are doing or saying is not okay. If you keep it up I’m going to find  ways to put distance between us.

I have more to say on boundaries. Look for my next post on this topic.

Question: What’s the hardest thing about setting boundaries for you? Leave your comment below.

This post was adapted from my book, STUCKhow to mend and move on from broken relationships.

  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (
  • How to Forgive: Be the Hero (

How to Forgive: Be the Hero

How to Forgive, F. Remy Diederich, anger

How to Forgive – Be the Hero

Over the next few days I want to talk about how to forgive… actual steps you can take to release the anger that you have toward another person and move on with your life. I hesitate to call them “steps” because forgiveness isn’t a formula.  These are merely ideas that might head you down the right path.

Note: this post is adapted from my book STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships.

Forgive and Be the Hero

The first idea about forgiveness is to be the hero. What I mean is that it doesn’t take any skill or courage to be angry. It doesn’t take any skill to complain or gossip about someone you don’t like or cast blame or feel sorry for yourself. Anyone can do that.

But forgiveness requires making a choice…a heroic choice. It means stepping up and saying…I’m not going to let my past or this person’s offense control me anymore. My anger doesn’t help me, my offender or God.  I’m going to forgive this person and move on with my life. 

Being a hero involves three choices:

  • Choose to Admit Your Anger

Admitting your anger isn’t as easy as it sounds. No one likes to admit that they’ve got a problem. It’s embarrassing but it’s also means that you are going to have to change. Once you admit that you’ve got a problem people are going to expect that you will work on it. We don’t always like that pressure so we never admit our problem. But heroes do.

  • Choose to Own the Problem

Heroes own the problem. They take responsibility for it.  They choose to quit blaming people… quit playing the victim and start working on a solution. For example, let’s say I loan you my car and you crash it and leave it down by the river. You come back, toss me the keys and say, “Good luck with that. I’m leaving town.” What should I do?  I can play the victim. I can tell my sad story and get sympathy and pity from people. I’m sure that will cause some people to give me rides…for a while. But over time that will get old. People will grow tired of my story and sick of my always using my lack of a car as an excuse.

The other option is to own my loss...take responsibility. I call a tow truck. I call the auto repair shop. I call the insurance company. I might even have to get a second or third job to pay for the deductible. I could complain and say, That’s so unfair. Well, yeah, of course it is. That’s what offenses are…unfair. Get over it Remy, at least if I want my life back.

Blaming is so much easier, isn’t it?  But blaming doesn’t get you anywhere.  Once you own your loss and deal with it then you can move on. And once you have moved on in life it’s a lot easier to forgive. It’s much harder to forgive when you believe your offender has you trapped because they aren’t solving all your problems for you.

  • Choose to Invite God into the Process

Heroes aren’t afraid to ask for help…especially God’s help.  Heroes know that to accomplish their task they need a power greater than themselves. I’m surprised how slow we are to ask God for help. He’s like our last resort. I ran a half marathon this past weekend. It was actually more like a walk! My knees started hurting within the first mile. I was complaining to myself for three miles before it dawned on me that I should ask God for some help and wisdom.

So the first thing you need to do is decide to forgive. Take action. That’s what makes you a hero.  I’ll be back in a couple of days with another idea on how to forgive.

Question: What has helped you find forgiveness? Leave your comment below.

  • How Do I Forgive My Ex? (
  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (

How Do I Forgive My Ex?

How Do I Forgive My Ex?

Last week I posted pieces of a message I spoke called “Defining Forgiveness: What it Is. What It’s Not”.  The message is a part of a larger series on Restoring Broken Relationships that I’m giving at my church.  Both at church and online the messages are having an impact.

In the coming week I will share pieces of a new messages on How to Forgive. But to start I want to share parts of an email sent to me last week from a woman who was able to forgive her ex-husband. I hope it encourages you if you are in a similar situation.

I am so amazed by how prayers are answered.  I have been asking God to bring someone or something into my life to show me signs or give me direction.  I was stuck in the mud; I had only healed to a certain point and leveled off.  It wasn’t enough, so I prayed for more direction.   

I listened to your message last night about forgiveness.  Every word of this hit home with me on such a deep level.  Your definition of what forgiveness is, but more so the definition of what it is NOT, was so meaningful.  In fact, I had such a feeling of peace.  I understand now what forgiveness is and how it relates to God, and that was such a missing link for me.

I realized today that I wasn’t angry anymore.  I thought before that in order to let go of the anger, I had to trust my ex, or excuse what he did.   I can’t trust him, but I can choose not to remember like God wrote in the Old Testament.  I can allow him to build trust.  I can let go of the anger and feel peace.  It’s over. It’s all in the past. I realized that if I want to move forward and excel in life, this anger has got to go.  So I let it go and God has helped me do it.  My shoulders feel relaxed!   

I know it will be a continuous process and through prayer I am achieving the strength I need.  My ex was here tonight to pick up the kids and I told him about this.  I told him that I forgive him.  It was a powerful moment.    

I am eager to move on with my life. I understand it’s a process, but I made a huge leap out of the mud I was stuck in.  I wanted you to know that.  I feel fantastic!  The grace of God has left me at a loss for words.

It was great to read this. I hope to read many more like it! Please share these posts with people who are struggling to forgive.  You can learn more about forgiveness in STUCK.

Question: Do you have a story of forgiveness?  What was the tipping point that enabled you to forgive?

  • Defining Forgiveness – Three Things That Forgiveness Is (
  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (

Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three)


Defining Forgiveness

This is the fourth of four posts on defining forgiveness. It has been great to see how many people have read and forwarded these posts.

Here’s a brief recap. So far I’ve defined forgiveness as…

  • giving up the right to get even
  • giving up the right to have your offender solve your problems
  • letting go of the past and moving into the future

Then I started to give five words for what forgiveness is not:

  1. Forgetting
  2. Excusing
  3. Trusting
  4. Reunion

Today I’m looking at the fifth word; conditional.

Forgiveness is not conditional.

It is not based on the other person.  Sometimes people tell me that they’d consider forgiving if they could get an apology but “the guy isn’t even sorry for what he did”.  They might point out verses that connect forgiveness with repentance. For example, Jesus said…

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. Luke 17:3

There are other verses like this too. But we have to look at the entirety of scripture. I know some people teach that you don’t have to forgive unless your apologizes but I think it’s a bad teaching for two reasons.  The first reason is that unconditional forgiveness is God’s model for us.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

God didn’t wait for us to clean up our act before he sent Jesus into the world. He took the first step and it was unconditional.

The second reason forgiveness shouldn’t be unconditional is pure logic. If forgiveness is conditional that means my offender controls me. As long as my offender doesn’t apologize I am chained to them emotionally and they can always “jerk the chain”. Let’s just take this to the extreme. Let’s say my offender wants to really mess with me and so they say…If I don’t apologize then Remy will stay angry and become resentful and bitter. Remy will think about me the rest of his life. Ha, ha, ha.

Forgiveness sets you free.

But forgiveness changes that. Forgiveness sets me free. It gives me the “trump” card…the last word.  Lewis Smedes tells us that…

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.  

This is especially important to understand if you are a victim of abuse or betrayal. The temptation is to live in the past, obsessing about what was  done to you. But what you need more  than ever is to win back your life. You will do that by forgiving.

I hope this series of posts helps you understand forgiveness a bit better…what it is and what it isn’t. But my real hope is that you’ll do it.  And here’s a secret; when you finally let go of the past that’s when your future opens up. Forgiveness is a word that releases you into your future. But unforgiveness keeps you stuck in your past.

Father we need to confess that even though forgiveness is central to who you are and what it means to follow Jesus, we are often slow to forgive. We have a thousand excuses why we don’t need to forgive. Help us to let go of our anger, let go of the past and move into the future that you have for us.  

Please take a moment to forward this post on Facebook, etc. Thanks.

Question: What kind of questions still trouble you about forgiveness? I’d like to try to answer them in the coming days.

  • Download the full podcast or text of the message “Defining Forgiveness” here.
  • Defining Forgiveness – Three Things That Forgiveness Is (
  • Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part one) (
  • Defining Forgiveness: Forgiveness is Not Trusting or Reunion  (