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? (readingremy.com)
- Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (readingremy.com)