Monday, March 5, 2012

Forgiving Our Parents


The conversation I have been having with myself goes something like this:

"WOW...why did I ever say I would blog about forgiveness?"
"Well....forgiveness is such an integral part of healing for many people, regardless of religious persuasion, or the depth of ones faith"
"Yes, I've collected, read, listened to and been told so many things about forgiveness and as it is related to divorce, that I don't know how I will be able to condense it all to write one blog post"
"Maybe , since it is such a hot topic, I should just leave the post page blank..he he...that would help people know it is not an easy topic, nor one most people like to write about"
"Maybe a blank page shows more of what I know about it, than a long post"
"That really wouldn't be very nice to my readers"
"You're right!"
"Well,  maybe I will just write the basic ideas....but which basic ideas??  and whose??  which spiritual guide or which modern author?"
"And there is a bigger question :  Have I forgiven?  Does it look like I have to God?  Does it look like I have to others? Does it look and feel like it to me?"
"WOW...why did I ever say I would blog about forgiveness?"

As I have read other adult children's experiences and as I have journeyed through the past years myself as an ACOD, the topic of forgiveness often comes up.  In order to accept the things we can not change and move ahead, alot of us explore the concept of forgiveness.  It is often in an effort to remove the resentment from our lives and loosen the power of the situation and the one who has hurt us.

Since my personal search for purpose and peace in life has led me to the Christian scriptures and words of Jesus, I will include some of the forgiveness passages you may find helpful.
Since my personal quest to know what it looks like and what it feels like to forgive someone who has hurt me deeply has led me to advice from others, I will include that as well. As you read the following, I pray that you and I will understand and practice forgiveness as adult children of divorce.


Luke 6:27-28   New International Version (NIV)

    27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you

Luke 17:3-4  New International Version (NIV)

3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

Matthew 6:14-15     New International Version (NIV)

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.


Matthew 18:32   New International Version (NIV)
   32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.


Romans 12:19-21   New International Version (NIV)

19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[ says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

What does Forgiveness Look Like?

The following  points are influenced by many , many things I have read that attempt to clarify what the scripture means and does not mean.  Many of the points made in much literature was condensed in an article  entitled  Forgiveness : Clearing Up Common Misconceptions , by Laura Petherbridge,  which I will use as a guide to the points below.

* Forgiveness acknowledges that you were hurt - it is OK to admit that someone betrayed you or caused loss in your life
* Forgiveness is an act that may not be initiated due to feelings - if we wait until we feel like forgiving , we probably never will
* Forgiveness says that there is a wrong-doer and there is a debt to you -  if the person didn't do anything hurtful there wouldn't be a need to forgive. To forgive doesn't make what the person did to you OK, it just releases them from owing you and lets go of bitterness inside you.
* Forgiveness can still allow for a person to be accountable - it is loving to hold people accountable. It requires authenticity and can lead to repentance and a better relationship.
* Forgiveness can mean that the relationship is different because of the present level of mistrust -
Redefining the relationship and trusting again takes time and depends on whether their actions warrant the gaining of trust again.

What does forgiveness feel like?

  • It feels like real love, where the person's good is of highest concern
  • It feels like there is hope for change....the actions may be judged as wrong, and there may be consequences, but the person is not condemned
  • It feels like freedom in OUR spirit when we forgive
  • It feels like letting go of our bitterness and demand for justice

I dont' know what kind of a conversation you are having with yourself after reading this post on forgiveness.  Adult Children of Divorce have a unique challenge in forgiving a parent or parents.  So I encourage you to keep having  that discussion with God and your own heart and mind.  In his book When God Interrupts   M.Craig Barnes quotes Anne Lamott  :  
 " Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having a better past".    I would add  : " ....and embracing all hope for a better future".  I pray that your and my future is more peaceful because we learn to forgive.

                                                   Next post will be about Growth.
 

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