Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding forgiveness, rediscovering a lost art...

This week’s sermon is on protecting our marriages. One of the most powerful forces that drive marriages to destruction is the inability of many couples to forgive each other. I’ve spent thousands of hours counseling couples of all ages, and many times their root issue is an unresolved offence.

We’ve all been effected by divorce. Divorce is perhaps the ultimate means to resolve your arguments, but it won’t solve your problems. I’m positive that if people learned how to forgive and reconnect, we would have fewer divorces. There’s one thing worse than divorce though, that’s harboring an unforgiving heart.

What motivates you to forgive? Besides the fact that God’s Word warns us, if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven, do you really want to go though life carrying the burden of hatred and bitterness that refusing to forgive dumps on you? More than likely, you’d like to be able to forgive, but maybe you’ve never learned how? Maybe you don’t want to make the effort to forgive; it’s hard after all. Maybe your pride tells you, you can’t forgive till the other person grovels and begs for forgiveness? Or, perhaps you can’t forgive because being a victim has become your identity, and therefore letting go of the offence would be like losing yourself...?

Nobody can present a “how-to” forgive in a few paragraphs.
I won’t try here, I’m smarter than that... Here’s what I will offer:
#1. Until you forgive, you’re giving the past control over your today/tomorrow. Since you can’t change the past, why let it prevent you from changing for the good, today?
#2. Forgiving isn’t the same as endorsing. Some people think if they forgive someone, that they’ve put their stamp of approval on the offence. That’s simply not the case. You can still communicate you’ve been hurt, reject the action/attitude, but make a stand that you won’t let that hurt separate you from the other person.
#3. Unforgiveness is usually a cycle you’ve learned from your parents. When it comes to handling marital fights, we practice what our parents modeled for us; good or bad. Give your children/grandchildren a gift, and break that cycle. Do the hard work it takes to learn how to forgive, read up on it, seek out mentors who can guide you, pray like your life depended on it, but do whatever it takes to learn to forgive as you’ve been forgiven.

I have a gift from God: When my head hits the pillow at night, I drop grudges. I forget about the past. I let it go. What helped me find this kind of peace of mind? I wish I could say with certainty/clarity. I’ve studied the subject of forgiveness, I’ve read a few books on the topic, and I taught a class on it too. I think more than any of these experiences, seeing the pain that people carry when they can’t forgive and watching several personalities ruined from not forgiving, has taught me plenty about MY need to forgive...

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