Thursday, March 10, 2011

Detoxing our Emotions - The PROCESS of forgiveness.

As stated in my last post one of the most Toxic emotions we can have is unforgiveness - We have discussed what forgiveness is and is not. Today I want to give one of the best illustrations I have ever seen of forgiveness and what it looks like long term. My next post will actually walk through the process of forgiving someone and keeping that forgiveness even when feelings and new hurts appear.

But today I want to give you an illustration that I use with all my clients. It is one of the best visuals I have found and it is someone who truly had a reason not to forgive.

The true and healing kind of forgiveness is a rare gift we give others and ourselves. it is a giving up of our rights, our defenses and our hurts. It is a promise to ourselves and to others not to bring up the offense again to them, to others about them, or even to our own thoughts. True forgiveness is a true letting go of the past.

Many of my clients say to me, "I have forgiven, but the pain is still there and the resentments come back. Didn't you say that forgiveness is a choice."

Well, here is an story of why after you have chosen to forgive, those feelings still rise up from time to time:

Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner of war in a German concentration camp during WWII. She suffered horrible trauma and saw her father and sister painfully abused. Walking down a city street in postwar Germany, she encountered the familiar face of a German guard from her concentration camp on the other side of the street. Her heart sped up and anger rose inside of her. As she walked down the street away from him the emotion began to subside. She wondered why she was still angry. Had she not forgiven? She had prayed to forgive, she had made a choice to forgive.

She went immediately to her pastor and shared her experience with him. He asked her to come to the church bell tower with him. As they stood by the bell her pastor told her to grab the bell rope and pull. The bells rang a loud ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong. He then told her to let go of the rope. The bells continued to ring until they slowed into silence.

Corrie's pastor explained that her decision to forgive was a releasing of the bell rope of resentment that she had pulled on for so long. The sound of the bells continuing to ring even after letting go of the rope are the feelings she still will have even after she has chosen to forgive.As she moves along in the forgiveness "process" there would still be a few feelings (ding-dongs) that will come into her emotions even after the decision to forgive was made.

This is the way it will work for most of us who have been deeply hurt and wounded by others. We need to fully face the wrongdoing against us, to make a decision to forgive and continue to hold fast to the decision until the day the residual ringing stops.

Next Post: This day I choose to forgive___________________.

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