"What can a ruined soul, like mine, effect towards the redemption of other souls?—or a polluted soul, towards their purification?"

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Forgiveness: Who's Saying What?, Part 1

Before delving into this topic Scripturally and personally, I wanted to look around and see what other people had to say on the topic.

Some might think this is useless, but it's not. There's the famous Augustine quote about all truth being God's truth. Since it gets taken out of context, here's the whole thing: "A person who is a good and true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who 'though they knew God did not glorify him as God...'"

So, for this post, I'd like to look at a few articles I found online from secular sources about forgiveness. Some you might agree with, some you might not. Some of it comes from good sources, some from people who are just sharing their opinion. Either way, there's some interesting stuff out there.

The first comes from the Mayo Clinic, written by Katherine Piderman, titled, "Forgiveness, Letting go of grudges and bitterness." She makes the point that unless we let go of grudges, we might pay the price with our health. Forgiveness doesn't mean we condone what the other person did, but defines it as "a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge."

She states that even if we forgive, we will likely feel the hurt for the rest of our lives, but we will have the peace of forgiveness. She states several benefits of forgiveness including spiritual well-being, lower blood pressure, and lowered anxiety. It answers several questions that the reader might find helpful including how to forgive and topics on reconciliation.

For some reason, Lance Armstrong's foundation, Livestrong has a whole page dedicated to forgiveness. Not bad stuff, either. It's a pretty good overview and laundry list for the topic. It has a pretty good discussion of the difference between forgiving and forgetting including this quote: Forgiving is allowing another person to be human for faults, mistakes or misdeeds. Forgetting is putting these behind you; they are no longer brought up and no longer remain a barrier to your relationship.It discusses the negative aspects of holding onto bitterness as well of the signs that a person is being unforgiving. The most practical aspect is the section on how to forgive, step by step.

Cultivate Life Magazine, which looks like an emagazine, gives us a pretty helpful article written by Lori Radun called, "Forgiveness - Breaking the Cycle of Resentment." It's filled with a bunch of helpful quotes and is very well written. It is written by a woman who has tremendous experience with forgiveness and understands the need for it first hand. I encourage you to read her article just to read her personal story. Here are a few quotes from the article:
  • Forgiveness is something virtually all Americans aspire to - 94% surveyed in a nationwide Gallup poll said it was important to forgive. In the same survey; only 48% said they usually tried to forgive others.
  • Forgiveness is a necessary step to healing from pain. It is a choice to extend mercy to the person who hurt you. Sometimes forgiveness allows you to move forward with the other person and experience a new relationship. Other times, reconciliation is not possible. In this case, forgiveness is more for you and your own personal growth.
  • You might be saying, "But you don't understand what's been done to me." And you're right; I don't know all the hurts you've endured. However, I know from experience that it pays to forgive. Forgiveness is a sign of strength - not weakness. It is the strong who can put aside the past and let go of anger and resentment.
  • Forgiveness does not mean you allow people to treat you badly. It does not mean you ignore the wrongdoings. It means you accept that the person has made a mistake, and you are choosing to grant them mercy. When you forgive someone, you won't necessarily forget the hurt.
  • Forgiveness does not mean you are condoning or excusing the person's behavior. And it doesn't mean you have to trust that person again. Some acts, like physical and sexual abuse, require that you limit your trust or at least test the trust with the person who hurt you. Remember, forgiveness is more for you than the other person.
She does a good job giving tips on how to forgive. Great article on forgiveness by someone who has been there and lived it.

Found an article in a newsletter by Diane Anderson Counseling. It touched on a topic that needs to be addressed more. It's in a section called, "Cheap forgiveness devalues." It makes some great points. Cheap forgiveness is basically given when someone says, "I forgive you" before thinking through how they were violated and how the violation might effect them long term. It is pointless to give out cheap forgiveness because it's not real and not from the heart. This one is definitely worth reading.

Most of the time I'll spend on the topic of forgiveness will deal with those who need to forgive those who have sinned. However, I did come across an interesting article aimed at those who have committed adultery. It talks about how to forgive yourself after causing pain to your former spouse and children. Great article on the topic. It's a rarity to see someone reach out to those who have sinned. It's called, "Happiness After Infidelity," by Suzie Johnson - give it a read.

Next time, I'll look at Christian articles and possibly compare and contrast them with the secular articles. If you know of any online helps, sermons, or good reads regarding forgiveness, please let me know in the comments section.

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