Tamara discusses the miracle of forgiveness by sharing 3 people we can forgive and 4 tips to help us forgive.
The Secrets to Forgiveness
On today’s episode, we are going to talk about a powerful word that is really hard. I’ve kind of got mixed emotions about it: forgiveness. And we’re going to talk about three people you can forgive and four steps to help you do it.
Last week, we had a very interesting conversation with our good friend, Debbie Ihler Rasmussen. and Debbie is an amazing author and a good friend of mine. We talked about courageous things, including being courageous in the ability to forgive her husband, when he had had several affairs. And that was something that was really really hard for Debbie. She finally said that one person told her that if you can’t forgive someone, you’re letting them rent space in your head for free.
And we often carry this weight of anger and frustration against people. So today I thought we’d talk a little bit about forgiveness because I don’t know about you, but it is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life.
And I want to talk today about how we forgive and who we forgive.
Who We Forgive
1. Forgive God
The first person I think we often get angry with is God. Maybe it’s just me. But when my son Nathan had been diagnosed with autism I was very angry with God because I knew He could heal my son, but He chose not to. I wish I could say it was different. But it wasn’t.
Some people will close God out of their lives when they’re angry with Him. Like they don’t even want to talk to Him. And that’s a normal reaction. So if you’ve ever felt that way, please don’t beat yourself up over it.
But I was one of those who felt comfortable talking to God about how I felt. I think God knows where we are, and takes us where we are. He knew I didn’t like feeling angry or feeling frustrated. I didn’t like feeling that my life was so completely out of my control and I felt God was causing it.
And so, as I talked to Him about it, and I asked him to help me with it. He did. He blessed me with peace although it was not immediate. This process probably took over a year. I talked about the whole process in my book, Normal for Me. (So if you want to read all the nitty gritty go ahead and read it there.) But it was a hard process for me.
So if you’ve ever felt angry with God, know you’re not the only one. But I think sometimes, especially in times like this when things have changed (like the coronavirus) or when things are just falling apart, we might have the tendency to point our finger and blame God. And there’s a way to get past that.
Great Bible Verses
Sometimes maybe we feel like David in the Psalms, where he says in Psalm 22:1
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me and from the words of my roaring?”
Do you ever feel like roaring at God? I know I do. Sometimes we feel He’s gone far away. Maybe we’ve pushed Him far away because we’re angry with Him, and we need to forgive Him.
But here’s God’s answer to us in another beautiful verse from 2 Kings chapter 20:5,
“I have heard thy prayer. I have seen thy tears. I will heal thee.”
So know that even though we may push God far away, He can and will heal us. You can’t do anything to push yourself too far away from God. He’s always there waiting like in the story of the prodigal waiting for us to “come to ourselves” and turn back home. And when we do turn to Him, He comes, and runs to us and embraces us. So reach out to God.
2. Forgive Yourself
The second person that we need to forgive is ourselves.
Have you ever done something wrong and then felt the weight of that mistake on your head, shoulders and heart? You can’t seem to forgive yourself. I know I felt that way before.
The Tie Between Forgiveness and Love
I think forgiveness is tied to love. When Jesus Christ is talking about his great commandments–to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We can’t love anybody more than we have the capacity to love ourselves. And that includes forgiveness, too. If we can’t forgive ourselves, how can we expect to forgive others?
This is something that is not going to change overnight. If you have that weight pressing on you, it’s good to talk to God about it. It’s good to tell him what you’re feeling. Maybe you want to speak to a clergy member about how you’re feeling. And then ask God for His help ask God to help you forgive yourself.
Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to forget the mistake. God tells us in the scriptures that He forgets. But we’re not blessed with that same capacity. I think one of the reasons for that is because He wants us to remember so we don’t make the same mistake again. And if it serves as a reminder, that’s is good. But I think God is able to free us from the guilt and the shame of it as we give it to Him.
And then thank God once you feel that weight lifted. I know I felt that weight lifted, it I felt like I could finally finally dance up the stairs and be happy and, and it really is a gift from God.
Great Quotes on Forgiveness
Here is a great quote by Maya Angelou,
“Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it.”
Isn’t that a great quote? Why are we so hard on ourselves? I think we’re harder on ourselves than on anybody else. I don’t know why that is but it just is. And it’s so so common.
Another quote by Miguel Ángel Ruiz Macías,
“Forgive yourself. The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows.”
Isn’t that beautiful? So again, that tie between love and forgiveness–it’s beautiful.
3. Forgive Others
The third person I wanted to talk about forgiving is forgiving others who have wronged us. And this probably has been one of the most challenging for me in my life. Because often we, like Debbie, are angry with someone and we don’t feel they deserve our forgiveness.
In Matthew chapter 6:12,14, and 15 it says,
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
T.D. jakes once said this,
“I think the first step is to understand that forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator. Forgiveness liberates the victim. It’s a gift you give yourself.”
And I think that’s something that Debbie discovered last week, as she shared with us her story, and I think it’s something that we can discover.
My Story With Forgiveness
I had a really interesting experience with forgiveness this last month. My husband was severed from his job that he’d been in for 23 1/2 years. And it was something that we could see coming because his company had been struggling. But yet it was still a hard thing. And I realized after he had been severed from his company that I needed to forgive some of the people who I perceived tipped some of the dominoes that triggered him being severed.
And I had to talk to God about that. I had to journal about it a little bit–get it out, and then ask God to help me to forgive them and to liberate myself.
And I did feel His help and his healing power in my life, and I was able to let go of that.
So sometimes it’s hard to forgive people have hurt those we love. And sometimes it’s hard to forgive people who have hurt us. And I’ve talked about that actually in this previous podcast episode. For example, when my family lived in Argentina and people were unkind to me when we lived down there during the Falkland Island war.
And so as I’ve shared these three people, we can forgive: God, ourselves and others, I think that I found four things that are a pattern for forgiveness.
4 Steps to Forgive
1. Recognize the Need to Forgive
First thing is we have to recognize and want to forgive. So recognize the fact that we’re angry towards someone or towards ourselves, and have the desire to forgive.
Now, maybe we don’t desire to forgive. That’s part of the problem. And I’ve had that happen before where I’ve actually had to pray for the desire to forgive. Because it did not come. I didn’t want to forgive.
So I had to pray for the desire to forgive. And God is good about that. If we even show and a tiny step of faith and say, “God, I don’t want to forgive this person, but I know I need to. Please help me.” He can take something as small as that step and help us begin moving towards forgiveness.
2. Get The Emotion Out
The second thing we need to do is we need to talk about the emotions. We need to get them out.
- You can either talk to God about it, he’s a great impartial listener.
- You can journal about it. I know that’s something that I’ve done before and it’s helped me just get the emotions out.
- Sometimes we talk to therapists or friends about the hurts that we have inside.
Because I think part of the forgiveness process is being able to vent the emotion that we have–whether it’s talking to God, others, or writing it out in a journal. We need to get the emotion out. It is part of the healing process. It’s healthy, to get the emotion out.
3. Ask God for Help
The third thing we need to do is ask for God’s help because forgiveness and love are only possible through God’s grace and through the help of Jesus Christ.
The Hiding Place Example
There is a beautiful passage I’ve read this week in the book, The Hiding Place, which is a perfect example of asking God for help. The Hiding Place is the story of Corrie Ten Boom who was a wonderful Christian woman who ended up sheltering Jews in her home in Holland during the Second World War. And the Nazi’s found them and sent them to a concentration camp. And even though her sister Betsy did not survive, Corrie talks about her sister and her Christian perspective through the whole experience. After the war, Cory became an amazing speaker who taught about God’s healing and forgiveness. One of the places she went and talked about the power of healing and forgiveness was in Germany. And here I pick up with her words from The Hiding Place.
Story from The Hiding Place
“It was at a church service in Munich, that I saw him. The former SS man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center and Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time.
And suddenly it was all there. The room full of mocking men. The heaps of clothing. Betsie’s pain blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away.’
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people at Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand to my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them.
Jesus Christ had died for this man. Was I going to ask for more?
‘Lord Jesus,’ I prayed, ‘forgive me, and help me to forgive him.’
I tried to smile. I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity.
And so again, I breathed the silent prayer, ‘Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.’
As I shook his hand, the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder, along my arm and through my hand, a current seem to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.
And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness, anymore than on our goodness, that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
An Amazing Example of Forgiveness
And I love that example of Corrie Ten Boom shares that God gives us the capacity to love even those who have hurt us the very most. And so when we ask God to help us even raise our hand to forgive, He is able to do that.
This process works. God helps us recognize the need to forgive–even it is just a small desire. Second, we need to vent out all those feelings, whether to God, in our journals, to a friend or therapist. Third, ask for God’s help in processing all of that emotion and in bestowing love and forgiveness, because it’s not something we’re going to do on our own. And fourth, remember to thank God once you feel that burden lifted. Forgiveness is an amazing miracle. And I’m so thankful for it.
My friends, the last thing I want to leave you with today is this invitation. As I’ve been sharing this with you, if you have had a thought that you need to forgive someone, whether it be God, yourself or someone else, I invite you to act on that.
Remember, you’re not alone as you act on that. I know what I’m inviting you to do is hard. But it’s worth it. It’s worth it to have the burden you’ve been carrying lifted.
And my friends, there is a lot of anger and hatred rippling around the world today. And I know it’s hard to watch. But you and I can make a difference today with ourselves. We can begin by helping lift the burden of hatred and anger, and give the blessing of forgiveness. And let that love and forgiveness ripple out to the world. Because forgiveness and love have the capacity to begin healing our society.
A Happy Hopeful Event
In conclusion, I’m just going to leave you with one happy thing. My kids are starting school, even though it’s on a hybrid schedule. They’re going to go back two days a week.
And this change has been a really hard thing for me. It’s not looking like anything we have had in the past and I’ve had to process that the last couple weeks and pray about it and ask God to help me with it. I have had to pray and ask Him to help me to know how I can get myself and my kids excited about school when it’s so different.
Finding Hope in Different School Scenario
And so the thought I had this past week was to design a space for them where they feel like they can work. And it is a different place than they’ve worked before. So we cleaned out my office. I used to have weight equipment here beside me.
And now I’m going to show you the results. For those of you who are listening, I’ll put a picture on my website for you.
But I have two little desks actually, (they’re little folding tables) we put up for my kids here. And my high school kids are now going to do school right behind me when they’re home.
And I’m actually really excited about it, and they’re excited about it. We’ve just we hung some motivational posters up, and I actually feel excited for them to start school today.
So my thoughts and my prayer are for you, my wonderful listeners, that whatever challenges you’re facing God can help you figure out a way to solve them and to get excited about the future, even when you may not see hope in the future.
Find that hope. Hope comes from God and he can help you find things to hope for. And He can help you lift your burdens and He can help you forgive. And I hope that you will find your burdens lifted this week as you forgive God, yourself or someone else. Have an awesome week guys! Hope on.