Forgiveness is layered. The events that occur to cause bitterness are rarely one time events. Even if they are, they still take time to un layer them because of all the meanings that are instantly applied to the wretched event. Why do you think that Jesus said we should forgive 7×70 (Matthew 18:22)? Because it’s an active state of forgiveness … it doesn’t end. Unfortunately, its not something that you can just check off your list.
In fact, forgiveness is like breathing. When we actually forget to inhale oxygen and someone says, “breathe” it’s not something that you do once and then check off your list. It continues – being told to “breathe” is just a reminder. The same when people say, “forgive” it’s a reminder…
When we are still learning what forgiveness means it most likely isn’t quite the revelation or the natural response that we’d like it to be – yet. As they say, “Practice makes perfect” … well … there really isn’t any such thing as perfect when it comes to forgiveness, unless you are God the Father. So, even though you may be actively working on forgiving, until you have the revelation of what that means, it’s natural to lash out with negative emotions and words that result out of pain. It’s unfortunate – but it’s normal.
Telling people that you ‘forgive’ does NOT mean “okay, I’ll stop talking about it and pretend it never happened.” No, that’s just denial and shoving it down will eat you alive. It’s like putting a lid on a soda bottle and shaking the bottle but not releasing the lid. The pressure WILL build – and when it does, stand back, because things are going to get messy when everything explodes.
Telling someone your frustrations and anger and the things that you’ve been bottling up are necessary for closure or resolution. It’s HOW you do that which will either cause more damage or bring healing. Blame always damages more. Blame causes more pain and every nasty emotion you can think of that will attempt to deflect that blame.
- For the person who is being blamed, if you feel a huge anger response, that’s your red flag that there’s a part of what is being said that you are actually in agreement with. If you were not, you would know the truth and nothing the person blaming you could do, would affect you, because you would recognize it as THEIR perception, THEIR pain, THEIR ISSUE.
- For the person blaming. Notice your own emotions and finger pointing. The people, events, circumstances, etc that you are attempting to blame are just knee-jerk reactions out of denial, deception and FEAR. That fear is your red flag that there is a deep truth that you are believing about yourself that you don’t want to look at.
People in pain naturally blame one another. It’s hard to see clearly when you are standing in the middle of the campfire being burned alive and smoke is burning your eyes. Distance is needed!
Knowing how you react when in the fire is your first lesson. Before you blame or harm another person, distance yourself from the fire by talking a walk, or taking a drive to cool off. State your need BEFORE the fires happen to let your family and friends that this is HOW YOU CHOOSE to handle situations or events that might trigger a response out of you that might cause you to harm them, your relationships or your current project.
Not everyone thinks first before they experience emotions. Some do. Those who can “think on their feet” get frustrated with those who are “so emotional,” not realizing that this is their nature. Some people will experience a flood of emotions which must be expressed before they can think clearly. Therefore, taking a walk helps them to sort through their emotions and thoughts so that when they return to the conversation, they do so in peace and an attitude of clarity.
People who think first often default to blasting their ‘opponents’ verbally – all the while denying their stuffed emotions which are bubbling beneath the surface, affecting how they perceive things – which result in their outbursts.
A feeling person who stuffs their emotions will do the same thing, but internalize their emotions or explode uncontrollably because they are not allowed by others or themselves, to recognize their thoughts, let alone think through their thoughts.
Agreeing ahead of time how disagreements will be handled helps immensely when speaking to an angry person – especially a hurting spouse.
This isn’t always possible though, so the responsibility always lies with you to give yourself what you need in order to set the stage for true forgiveness – beginning with yourself. It’s all a process, and it takes a lifetime to grasp why this is necessary for life and living.