Tag Archives: forgiveness

This Anniversary Marks Growth, Not Pain

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Forgiveness

To look forward, to want life, means we have to be willing to look backwards and become more conscious of all those who have hurt us, all that is broken in us and that has brought us inner deaths, hurts that we may have hidden and stifled. It means that we acknowledge the story of our origins, of our own lives, see and accept our brokenness and the times we also have hurt others. When we have accepted who we are and what we need in order to grow in compassion and peacemaking, we can move forward to give life. To forgive is a gift of God that permits us to let go of our past hurts.

Jean Vanier, Finding Peace, page 47-48
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About two years ago, I broke up with my fiancée.  It took a day of arguing, crying, yelling, loneliness, and confusion to really make the breakup final.  One day she was in my life as no one else was or had been; the next day she was out.  I was sad we couldn’t work things out, but relieved at my decision, and felt strong about sticking to the course.  Our relationship was toxic and I had to let myself go from her.

Today I am more mature and definitely happy.  But that quote I have added as a beginning to this reflection really dives into a point I don’t hear of often.  To get real results with forgiveness is not necessarily to go looking for a scenario where a person can obtain closure.  In fact, that’s downright selfish.  My idea of closure may be drastically different from my ex-fiancée’s idea of closure.

Instead of seeking closure from her, I sought answers within my own actions.  I sought to lay out all the wrongs I did against her both out of anger and naiveté.  Afterall, relationships are not one-way occurrences. If it was toxic, I had some part of making it toxic.  I sought counseling.  I read and reflected.  I prayed for myself.  I allowed myself to fall in love again, and get hurt; to start over again, and to be vulnerable again.

I prayed for her almost every day, and then every other day, and then after four or five months, I prayed for her on occasion.  I recognized that I was not helping the healing process for myself if I frequently reviewed my past with her.  I had to trust that she was being taken care of and being prayed for by others.

Remember Jean Vanier said to acknowledge our stories?  I’m acknowledging that even after a harsh break-up, and going to counseling, I still messed up with other brand new relationships. Yet, I have not quit believing that I can do better in my relationships, and especially in dating.  I have gotten back up, and take all events as learning experiences.

Forgiveness is coming to an acceptance of what is broken and letting go of regret or resentment.  Moving on does not meaning the brokenness is gone.  It means acknowledging our scars and walking forward with them, not shying away from our needs.  One of my major needs has been to be consistent in my prayer life, and attend prayer with a community, regardless if I feel I “get something out of it.”  The gift has been in the stability rather than in small moments of joy or peace, which do occur, but definitely not every time.

It really did take double the amount of time I was dating my ex-fiancée to move into a healthy mindset about my relationship with her.  I have not spoken to her for a very long time, nor do I intend do.  But if I did run into her, I pray that I would be nothing less than sincerely courteous to her and able to wish her well, without sounding condescending.

My prayer for you, the reader, is that you too will find quiet time to look into your past hurts and scars, and then with much hopeful resolve, ask God to open your heart to that gift of forgiveness so that you can be a light and companion to others as they wrestle with their own brokenness.

 

Bitter Transitions Don’t Lead to Healing

I have included below a great passage from a book that sounds like it’s worth looking into.  Thanks to another blogger, Joy Eggerichs, who got the author to write a passage that’s from material in his book, but not necessary a direct quote from it.

It speaks about the temptations we deal with when we come up against transitions that were imposed on us.  In this particular passage, it’s a pondering over the grief and hurt we may carry if we don’t accept and forgive those involved in the circumstances of a broken relationship.

Believe me, I have just recently been going through such transitions, or, as Jeff calls them, the land between.  I do feel the hurt and the confusion, and many other emotions that don’t seem to point toward being loving and forgiving like my God is.  So I’m tempted to stay angry, or to blame the other person for the mishaps and misfortune.

But these feelings will not lead toward freedom to love.  The more I don’t process the hurt and realize that I, too, had my own part, the longer the process of real healing will take.  If anything, I am called to forgive the other person even if it was entirely an issue of theirs.  We are called to forgive all because no one ever fully understands why they do what they do, or realizes the full repercussions.  Jesus said forgive 70 times 7.  That was another way of saying, “forgive and forgive until you die.”

This will take much growth, and much maturity will come from it.  Read on to take part in Jeff’s wisdom and caution for this “land between.”

A Greenhouse for Growth

By: Jeff Manion

When deeply hurt by someone, your future is in jeopardy. When we feel abandoned, betrayed, or deserted, the heart can drift into a grove of lasting bitterness, or a lingering resentment that can poison our other relationships. We also have the opportunity for the grace of God to meet us in the damaged place – transforming us into people who are tender, gracious, and approachable.

I have long been convinced that it is not simply the events of life that shape us but our response to those events. For me there was a lightbulb moment when this truth crystallized.

We agreed to meet at 10:00 p.m. at Denny’s, where we figured we could find a quiet corner for an intensely personal conversation. When I arrived, Tony had already secured a booth and was cradling a mug of coffee. His wife—soon to be ex-wife—had moved out, announced that she had no interest in counseling or reconciliation, and left the state to join the man who had stolen her heart. It seemed that the only remaining conversation was who was going to get what.

Tony quickly realized that with only one income, he could no longer make the mortgage payment on their—his—home and would soon be looking for an apartment. He spoke bitterly of the prospects of selling the house in a down market, projecting the beating he would take on the sale. He was certain that he would realize no equity after all those years of making payments. Foremost in the ongoing conflict was who would end up with the newer car and who would have to drive the beater. But the quibbling extended to the appliances—not only who would take possession of the washer and dryer, but trivial stuff such as the toaster and the blender.

It was tragic to me that Tony was losing his wife, and here we were in a Denny’s talking about losing the toaster. As he spoke about the division of the household items, his energy level began to elevate and the intensity picked up. Customers at nearby tables began to look over nervously as his voice got louder. I could feel his deep disappointment transition into a fuming anger, which in part I found excusable, understandable.

But as he vented, I could sense something inside him turning a deep shade of bitter.

As I sat opposite Tony in the booth, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that in fifteen years, neither of them would be driving either car. Both vehicles would be on a scrap heap somewhere. The washer and dryer would be history. The toaster would be long gone, experiencing a much shorter life span. But the decisions of the heart made in this troubled space could affect Tony’s life fifteen years later.

Certainly he would need to walk through stages of emotion, stages of grief, as he worked to process the betrayal, heartache, and loss. But I realized as we sat together in the late hours in the half-empty restaurant that Tony was in the process of deciding who he was becoming.

I was shaken by the reality that his response to the divorce could end up having a greater effect on his life than the divorce itself.

This is so significant when we pass through seasons of extreme disruption, what I have come to call The Land Between. It is critical to recognize that not simply the hardship, but also our reaction to the hardship, is forming us. With each major disappointment we experience, our responses both reveal the person we are and set the trajectory for the person we are becoming. Whether we age with grace and poise or become bitter, resentful people is largely determined by our response to disappointment.

These deeply troubling seasons can be a greenhouse for transformational growth. It is also the desert where faith goes to die. We decide. Our response to deep disappointment may end up being more defining than the pain itself.

Questions

How have your reactions to hardship shaped your life?

Do you believe troubling seasons can be “a greenhouse for growth”?

________________________________

Jeff Manion is Senior Teaching Pastor of Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for more than 25 years.  Jeff is the author of The Land Betweenand he and his wife, Chris, have three adult children.

Follow Jeff on Twitter HERE.

What We Feed Will Grow

A key theological point I am learning through l’Arche is about accepting the “shadow-side” of my Self.  Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen, two great theologians from l’Arche, speak about our shadow-side as being not “apart” from us, but “a part” of us.  It is never going to go away, and the more we repress it, the more it is bound to explode.  Repression of our shadow is practically the same as “feeding it.”

I ran into the comic strip below from my brother who has always shared great stuff with me.  The story tells everything you need to know about how to handle your shadow side.

Jean recommended that we not feed the shadow, but befriend the shadow so that when others do wrong to us, we will not react with aggression or despair, but will hold a sense of empathy for that wrongdoer.  Knowing how to forgive is also knowing the “bad wolf” of our own, and realizing that the person who wronged you has ultimately a harder battle…within their Self their shadow is winning, and it is not allowing them to become the best person they can be.  And that’s a sad state of being.  So pray for them, and forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

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Finding Our Way in Life: Daily Thoughts from Jean Vanier

Jean Vanier is a profound theologian who, with friends, founded the l’Arche communities. These communities are throughout the world, and venture to create homes of people with and without disabilities, venturing to be in communion with one another.

He is definitely as profound as Mother Teresa, but has not made as big of a splash in the secular world as she had.  Nonetheless, his work is just as important.

Below, I have integrated an email that is sent daily, and is something you may want to subscribe to, if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration and hope for your day.  Notice that there are two thoughts integrated….I did that so you could get the point of the style of his reflections.

To subscribe, click here.

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Tuesday 8 January 2013
Celebration
Maybe the world will be transformed when we learn to have fun together. I don’t mean to suggest that we don’t talk about serious things. But maybe what our world needs more than anything is communties where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world. Maybe we need signs that it is possible to love each other.

Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World,” p. 75

Sunday 6 January 2013

Changing the World

I have been trying to point out that our deep need is to meet others on the other side of the wall, to discover their gifts, to appreciate them. We must not get caught up in the need for power over the poor. We need to be with the poor. That can seem a bit crazy because it doesn’t look like a plan to change the world. But maybe we will change the world if we are happy. Maybe what we need most is to rejoice and to celebrate with the weak and the vulnerable.

Jean Vanier, “Living Gently in a Violent World,” p. 75

A thought on the Death Penalty

Sr. Prejean is most famous for her book made into a movie, “Dead Man Walking.”  This video here is when she gave a sermon at Holy Family Church, Pasadena, CA October 7, 2012.

The video is about 20 minutes, and in summary she points out:

  • If Catholics are pro-life, can they really decide not to stand up against the death penalty?
  • Does not the death penalty make violence a solution, therefore validating it?
  • All churches need to do much more for victims of violence, and not only promote an elimination of the death penalty.  Otherwise, it would be missing the point!

Proposition 34 is worth your vote if you do believe in redemption and forgiveness.

A journey of Horror and Forgiveness

From the book:
“What was that all about, Immaculée? That was the man who murdered your family. I brought him to you to question…to spit on if you wanted to. But you forgave him! How could you do that? Why did you forgive him?”

I answered him with the truth: “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.”

pg. 204

—————–

THAT line is the goal….but how the heck did this woman get to that point is why you NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!!

Guilt and anger are forces destroying our cultures, our churches, and ourselves most of the time, if we don’t know any better. Even so, it is extremely hard to look at the ugly face of reality and actually embrace it.

This woman’s message of how she came to forgive unspeakable atrocities (but she does write about them so that we can ponder the potential horror in society), and it needs to be heard and understood.

Yes, the book tells of gross details and it isn’t some theme you could sip a latte over. BUT THIS MAY SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELF!

and isn’t that worth the effort, to read a book that may not be at all lacking challenge, but one that will bring you to ask the question: what angers me or what relationship has been forgotten because of the lack of forgiveness?

God grant us the strength to not die with unresolved issues, or hate in our heart, regardless of circumstance.

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