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Jennifer Grassman

Recording Artist + Author + Mommy

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July 2013

Killing The Lies: What Is Forgiveness, Really?

The Broken Heart, by Kiomi at SXC
The Broken Heart, by Kiomi at SXC

This is the first in a series of blogs about forgiveness. For a rough overview of talking points I’ll be covering, check out my “preface” blog to this series: The Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness.

Besides personal experience, I will be basing many of my ideas on Matthew 18, specifically verses 21-35. If you aren’t familiar with the parable of “The Wicked Servant,” or you just want to brush up your memory, you can read it here. Or, you could just read ahead. This series will make sense either way!

WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

Forgiveness is the legal absolution of debt.

Sure, there are instances where a quick, “Sorry about that,” and a, “No problem,” are appropriate, particularly in the case of minor wrongdoings or mishaps, but when it comes to forgiving anything from hurt feelings to physical harm, what we’re saying is:

“I forgive you. I’m not going to demand payment. I’m not going to seek revenge. I’m not going to publicly humiliate you by telling everyone what you did. I’m not going to rub this in your face for the next 10 years every time you annoy me. You’re absolved.”

When it comes to God forgiving our sin, it’s also matter of legality.

Sin = We Broke God’s Law
Penalty = Banishment From God’s Presence (Heaven)
Repentance = We Realize Our Offense, And Ask God For Mercy
Atonement = Jesus Pays Our Penalty Because We Can’t
Forgiveness = We Are Legally Absolved of Our Crimes Against God. We Are Debt Free, Because Jesus Paid the Bill We Couldn’t Afford To Pay

FORGIVENESS IS NOT A STAMP OF APPROVAL

Forgiving forget and/or pretend like nothing ever happened.

You can forgive someone and still not trust them. You can also forgive someone, but impose limits on your relationship with them.

For Example:

“I forgive you for wrecking my car. I know you can’t afford to pay the repair bill, and I don’t expect you to. It’s OK. But I don’t feel comfortable letting you drive my car again.”

“Dad, I forgive you for abusing me as a child. I’m not angry at you anymore, and I’m not expecting you to somehow make everything better, but I can’t let you babysit my child.”

“I’m really sorry things got so uncomfortable, and I forgive you for lying to me. But you have to understand that from now on, it’s going to be hard for me to trust you. We’re going to have to work on rebuilding our relationship. Can we do that?”

“Last time we trusted you to watch the house while we were out of town, you threw a party and some things got stolen. I forgive you and I’m not angry. But this time, when we’re away, we’re going to hire someone else.”

“Honey, I love you, and I forgive you for hitting me. But you shouldn’t treat me like that, and the kids shouldn’t have to watch you hitting their mom. You have some serious issues you need to work out, and until that happens, you need to go live somewhere else.”

Yes, God expects you to be merciful, but he’s not asking you to play the fool either.

Read the Next Article: WHO SHOULD BE FORGIVEN & WHO SHOULD NOT?

That’s all for now folks!  In future blogs I’ll be covering topics including:

  • Who Should Be Forgiven & Who Should Not?
  • Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean We Should Put Up With Evil
  • Why Is It Good To Forgive People Who Aren’t Sorry?
  • How Do I Forgive The Unforgivable?

To suggest additional talking points, please comment below. For notifications of future entries, please subscribe to my email list here or click “follow” in the top right corner of this page.

Thanks!

Jennifer

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
— Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

The Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness

The Broken Heart, by Kiomi at SXC
The Broken Heart, by Kiomi at SXC

I consider myself an expert on forgiveness. Seriously, anyone over the age of 20 who isn’t festering in bitterness is probably an expert on forgiveness. But forgiveness is still hard.  Especially when we’re confronted with issues such as domestic violence, adultery, lies, betrayal, or theft. It’s hard to forgive people, especially friends and family, for taking advantage of our trust in them.

Over the next week or so, I’ll be publishing a series of blogs covering forgiveness.  Before we embark, I want to catalog the Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness, along with some very, very brief response to each.

  1. God Forgives Everybody
    Despite the popularity of this myth, God only forgives people who repent. Forgiveness, in the Bible, is always in response to a genuine apology or request for mercy.
  2. You Should Forgive Everybody Too
    See above. While it’s spiritually healthy to let go of your anger and forgive even the worst atrocities, you shouldn’t hold yourself without exception to a standard that God doesn’t even hold himself to.
  3. Forgiveness = Forgetting
    While God does call us to forgive, he does not require us to be fools. For example, if someone has lied to you over and over again, you can forgive them, and still not trust every word they say.
  4. Forgiveness Means Giving Evil a Free Pass
    You can forgive a person and still refuse to tolerate or live with a lifestyle of recurring and unrepentant sin. You don’t have to – and shouldn’t – be friends with criminals or perverts.
  5. Being Angry is Sinful
    This depends on the brand of anger and how it is expressed. Throwing a tantrum and breaking something because you didn’t get your way is selfish, juvenile, and wrong. Being justifiably angry and behaving like a mature, rational adult is OK. Even God gets mad. “God is angry with the wicked every day.” Psalm 7:11
  6. Everyone Deserves Forgiveness
    Forgiveness isn’t about giving people what they deserve. In fact, no one deserves to be forgiven at all. Forgiveness is a blessing, not a right. However, it’s healthy to forgive even our worst enemies, because forgiveness frees us from the shackles of anger and pain they put on our hearts.
  7. Forgiving People Shows Weakness
    While I’ve never heard anyone actually come out and say this, a lot of people practice it in their daily lives. Their anger makes them feel strong and in control, and letting go of that anger makes them feel weak and out of control. But as Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
  8. I Forgive You, But I’ll Remind You Of This Blooper Every Chance I Get For The Next 10 Years
    By definition, forgiveness is the act of letting go of all anger and entitlement. If you tell someone that you forgive them, but keep reminding them of their sin every time you get in a fight, your forgiveness was not from the heart.
  9. Wives, in Particular, Should Always Forgive Husbands
    There is a lot of pressure in many Christian churches on wives to forgive their abusive, cheating husbands. However, neither Biblical forgiveness nor Biblical submission call upon women to roll over and mutely accept it as God’s will when they’re abused or abandoned by their spouse.
  10. If You Don’t Forgive Others, God Won’t Forgive You
    On the surface this may seem like a true and Biblical statement. Nevertheless, it’s one of the biggest, baddest, and most pernicious lies of them all. This one, however, I’m not going to refute just yet. I need to save something for later to create suspense!

Sound interesting?  I’ll be expounding upon these Top 10 Most Prevalent Lies About Forgiveness and backing up my positions in the upcoming blog series, Killing The Lie: “If You Don’t Forgive Others, God Won’t Forgive You”

For notifications of future entries, please subscribe to my email list here or click “follow” in the top right corner of this page.

Thanks!

Jennifer

NEXT ARTICLE: Killing The Lies: What is Forgiveness, Really?

Why Positive Thinking Can’t Change Your Life … And What Can

There are countless “life coaches” and positive thinkers out there today who would have you believe that if you think enough positive thoughts, and are determined to be happy, you WILL be happy. They say that you can rise above your own personal challenges if you just have enough self-generated motivation.

Sadly, this is not true.

Why?

Because there is something deep within us that is much more powerful than thought. It’s called, belief. It doesn’t matter how many times you think, “I’m stronger than this!” if you don’t believe it, all your positive thoughts are shallow lies, canceled out by negative beliefs.

No matter how open minded and smart we’d like to think we are, we humans have many, many, MANY very strong beliefs. Most of our beliefs are so deeply rooted in our subconscious that we don’t even know that we have them.

Those little voices in our heads that say, “You’ve always been fat,” or, “You’re too shy to speak at that conference,” or, “You’re not smart enough to handle that project,” are often not just thoughts, they’re the expressions of our core beliefs about ourselves.

That’s why a battered woman will return to her abusive husband, or suffer through dysfunctional relationship after dysfunctional relationship. She may sincerely think, “I deserve better,” 50,000 times, but until she fundamentally believes it, she is trapped in a cycle.

Where do these negative beliefs come from?

Often, they’re rooted in our childhood. Our parents being critical, our peers being snobby, a legalistic religious upbringing, or our inundation with advertisements depicting the ideal man or woman who looks so very, very, very unlike us … All these things and many more can lay the foundation for or contribute to our beliefs.

In many cases, our beliefs are based on what other people tell us to believe. However, the key to changing our beliefs is to take responsibility for them.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Yes, your mom said, “Don’t wear those pants. They make you look fat!” But you believed her. And you still believe her.

Yes, your junior high rivals openly mocked and bullied you. But you believed them, because their ignorant, juvenile voices are still echoing around in your head.

Yes, your dad blamed his “anger problems” on you, because you were such a “stupid” and “obnoxious” child. He wouldn’t have had to hit you if you’d been “good” or “smart” or “better.” Right?

That’s what you believed! And those beliefs (even though you may have forgotten they were even there) are still shaping and influencing your adult thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, relationships, career, and how you interpret the world around you.

Next time you feel depressed or frustrated – next time that negative, nagging voice pops into your head – ask yourself, “What core belief do I have that’s inspiring this feeling or thought?”  Once you identify those beliefs, you can change them.

How?

FORGIVENESS.

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.” ~ John Green, Looking for Alaska

  1. Forgive everyone in your life (past and present) who inspired or reinforced your hurtful beliefs about yourself.
  2. Forgive God for not giving you the ideal life you wanted.
  3. Forgive yourself for whatever failings (or imagined failings) you have.

Are you overweight? Forgive yourself. And instead of punishing yourself by giving up and giving in, reward yourself with a healthier lifestyle.

Are you not where you imagined you’d be 10 years ago? Let your pride and anger go, and embrace the accomplishments you’ve made, whether material or spiritual.

Don’t hold yourself to the standards of others. Don’t blame your challenges on other people. OWN your challenges. Take RESPONSIBILITY for your weakness. FORGIVE yourself and others. LEARN and GROW from your pain and suffering.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ~ Steve Maraboli, Life, The Truth, and Being Free

One fun little exercise I’ve learned is to write down your negative beliefs on a piece of paper. Whether it’s, “I am unattractive,” or, “I’ll never be a better man than my father,” or, “I’m a slut,” or, “I’m trapped in a career I hate because I’m stupid” …

  1. Write it down.
  2. Crumple it up.
  3. BURN IT!

As you watch that paper turn to ash, envision your negative belief crumbling away with. Let go of them. Let them blow away like dust in the wind. Forgive yourself for being only human. Recognize your weakness, learn from it, and become stronger by doing so.

On the ashes of your negative beliefs, you will (slowly but surely) build new, healthy, and positive beliefs. It may take the help of a pastor, friend, therapist, spouse, (or all the above), but in time, you will establish positive and healthy core beliefs. Those beliefs will result in positive thoughts, happy feelings, productive actions, and a better life.

“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” ~ Alexander Pope

“I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”  ~ Jane Austen

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  ~ Plato

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”  ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

“Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”  ~ Steve Maraboli

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