The Four Step Journey to Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not necessarily an event but a process or journey. The pain we can feel from betrayal, suffering or loss is very real and can take time to work through. Forgiving a wrong does not mean we are declaring that what happened to us is okay. Nor does is require you to pretend you don’t remember the offense. And in some cases, those who have brought the offense are no longer with us or we are unable to communicate with them directly. Regardless of your current relationship with the offender, the choice to forgive is extremely important for YOU!

There are multiple benefits when we choose to work through the process and forgive.

Here are just a few:

  • ·       As long as we allow the offense to hold us in unforgiveness, we are shackled to that offender. Forgiving sets us free from those chains so we can once again find freedom in ourselves.
  • ·       When we forgive, we alter our body chemistry, or physiology both in our bodies and minds increasing our energy, calming our senses and restoring our health in time.
  • ·       We discover our lives again and slowly our happiness returns and our state of mind improves.

Follow these steps below and work through them every day for as long as it takes:

STEP #1: IDENTIFY THE HURT OR OFFENSE

Label the offense and label the feelings you may have as a result. Be as specific as you can. Consider writing them down on a sheet of paper and then burning it as a way of symbolically declaring an “end” to your suffering.

  • Who or what caused this offense?
  • What was the offense?
  • How did you feel at the time?
  • How do you feel now?

STEP #2: CONFESS ANY HATRED YOU MAY HAVE

It is not wrong to hate what may have happened or caused your offense. However, it is what we do about that hate which will determine the outcome. Here are some considerations:

  • Projecting the hatred inwards, stuffing it down or harboring the grudge will wreak havoc in our health, our minds and our ability to function, ultimately leading to disease, depression and multiple other issues.
  • Projecting the hatred outwardly will likely destroy our healthy relationships and wreak damage to our world around us including our personal and professional performance. Taking out hatred on the offender will never solve the issue but only increase our frustration and potentially bring harm to our future.
  • However, deciding to hate the offense itself rather than the offender (the “sin instead of the sinner”) is the healthiest direction to take in the first stages of forgiveness. Simply make the shift in your heart and mind that you will despise the offense and release the offender (see STEP #3)

STEP #3: ACKNOWLEDGE AND RELINQUISH CONTROL

Refusing to forgive provides a feeling of control or power over the offender, but the reality is that we cannot control others and in many cases the offender is unaffected by our decision to hold them captive by our unforgiveness. The feelings of control we have are only a mask bury our true feelings. Make the following declarations below every day:

  • I refuse to be a victim!
  • I choose to cancel a debt I cannot collect
  • I make the decision to be free and move forward
  • I allow God to be my vindicator and bring justice
  • I sever any ties and relinquish all control between myself and the offender

STEP #4: BEGIN TO ALLOW HEALING AND RESTORATION IN YOUR HEART AND MIND

Day by day, make the above declarations and begin to choose a path of healing allowing your heart and mind to be filled with warm thoughts of love and compassion for yourself.

Take time to pamper and love on yourself with walks in the park, long baths or anything that gives you a sense of wholeness and well-being. Each time, meditate on your wholeness and happiness.

Use the following affirmations over yourself to aid in this stage of forgiveness:

  • ·       I am calm, secure and hopeful
  • ·       I am filled with joy and strength
  • ·       I am an overcomer in all things
  • ·       I am blessed and valuable
  • ·       I am talented and highly favored
  • ·       I live each day with anticipation for a new life

Allow yourself time and feel free to express any emotions you need to as you work through this process. Cry, shout, vent and share with someone you trust. Even in moments of solitude this can be very therapeutic. Prayers and meditation are also very effective in helping you to sort out your feelings and detach yourself from the offense. As long as your goal is to reach the other side.

There is a Step #5 if you would like to take this to an even higher level. If possible, consider writing a letter forgiving the offender and sending it to them or telling them you forgive them. You can also pray for them or give them a gift of peace. This action is a bold step that can bring incredible restoration and a sense of completeness. Additionally, if you believe in reaping and sowing, or karma, this action can change your destiny for amazing new opportunities.

As you apply each step and time passes, the offense will diminish and your freedom from it will become evident, resulting in a magnificent future far above the place you once stood and opening new doors for you.

I understand the real pain this may cause you especially when the offender is not sorry or not aware of what they have done to you. I have been through it as well but I can tell you that it is possible and it is worth it!

Wishing you the amazing life that you deserve! Feel free to reach out to me – Michelle L Steffes, CPS, CPLC