In Part 1 of this blog series we looked at Exodus 8 and how Pharaoh waited a day to have Moses ask God to get rid of the frogs. Carrying unforgiveness around in your heart is like carrying a bunch of frogs around with you. Forgiveness allows us to get rid of these frogs. If you did not read Part 1 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 2, I shared a bit about my personal story and my journey to learn what real forgiveness was. If you did not read Part 2 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 3, I discussed the ideas of admitting we need help, taking responsibility for our own happiness, stop putting it off, and turning your mess into your message. If you did not read Part 3 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 4, I discussed the two major turning points in my life and how one of those turning points involved true forgiveness. If you did not read Part 4 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 5, I discussed some reasons why we fake forgiveness. If you did not read Part 5 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 6, I discussed some of the things that forgiveness is not. If you did not read Part 6 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 7, I discussed what forgiveness is. If you did not read Part 7 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 8, I discussed some ways you can know that you have forgiven someone. If you did not read Part 8 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 9, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and discussed the importance Jesus puts on forgiveness. If you did not read Part 9 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 10, we looked at the parable of the unmerciful servant, found in Matthew 18. We discussed the idea of how we should forgive others like God has forgiven us. If you did not read Part 10 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 11, we talked about how Jesus dealt with the woman caught in adultery, found in John 8. If you did not read Part 11 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 12, we looked at Ephesians 4 and what Paul says about forgiveness. We also discussed the main topic of how do I forgive. If you did not read Part 12 of this blog series, you can read it here.
In Part 13, we looked at the forgiveness cycle and the different parts that make up the cycle. If you did not read Part 13 of this blog series, you can read it here.
We have talked a lot about the topic of forgiveness. We have talked about why we fake forgiveness, what forgiveness is not, what forgiveness is, how to know if we have forgiven someone, Bible verses and stories talking about forgiveness, how to forgive someone and we even looked at all the stages of the forgiveness cycle. I know that is a lot and I appreciate you following along with all of it. So we have talked about all of this, but now what? How do I move forward with forgiveness? What are some actual, practical things I can do to forgive someone? I am going to end this blog series with giving you five practical steps that you can take in your own life to develop a lifestyle of forgiveness in your own life.
1. Practical Steps to ForgivingAsk for help/accountability. Forgiveness is a hard thing to do on your own. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells inside of you, it can still be very difficult as you are learning to forgive. Sometimes we need help from others. Utilize people you know who have a strong relationship with God and go to them and ask for their guidance and help. Forgiveness might be an area that they struggled with at some point in their lives. They can tell you how they learned how to forgive people. Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help. We all need help at different times in our lives.
It is also a good idea to have an accountability partner. This can be the same person that you go to for help or it can be someone different. You need to have a person that you check in with and talk to about how your journey with forgiveness is going. You can discuss success as well as failures you have experienced in the area of forgiveness. They can help you through the failures and celebrate the successes with you. Checking in and talking with them regularly will also help keep you on track for making continual process. People are more likely to find success in an area when they are held accountable for doing it by someone else.
2. Utilize resources. We live in a time when resources are more readily available to us than any time before. You can utilize books on the subject of forgiveness, sermons, websites, blogs, and even get cds on the topic that you can listen to while you drive in your car. There is a lot of information out there on the topic of forgiveness. You just need to invest some time into learning about it and how you can be successful at forgiveness.
3. Be humble, honest, and specific. Don’t come into an opportunity to forgive with an iron fist. Even though they may have hurt you through what they have done, it does not give you the right to come back at them with guns a blazing. You need to approach the person with a humble heart. Be calm and use kind language when you talk to them. A good statement to say to someone when you approach a person might be something like, “I need to forgive you for this…because it makes me feel like this.” Be open and honest with the person about how their actions made you feel. You also need to be very specific about what exact actions caused what feelings. The person who hurt you may have had no idea that they were hurting you at all. Approaching a person in this way allows them to fully understand what they did, but at the same time, your humble, calm approach will not stir things up, hopefully. Once you have made your feelings known, be quiet and give them time to process what you said and to respond to it. They may be remorseful for what they did or they may not be. Either way, you can tell the person that you have made the decision to forgive them. You can even give them a stuffed frog if you want to. That would really throw them for a loop.
4. Pray like crazy. Take time to talk to God about the situation. Let God change your heart from the inside. He is the one who will bring you from a state of rage or despair to a place where you are able to forgive. God can do some amazing things if you let Him so give Him some room to work. This might not happen overnight so don’t go into prayer thinking one prayer is going to be all that it takes because it may take more than that. Sometimes God needs some time to get you right before you can really forgive someone.
5. Face to face. Sometimes it can be scary confronting a person about something they have done to you. You might be tempted to send them a text, email, written letter or even call them. If at all possible, try to avoid these avenues of communication. Set up a time and place that you can meet the person and talk to them face to face. This is going to be difficult so you may need to role play this with someone first. You can’t replicate the sincerity of a face to face conversation. If the person you need to talk to lives a long ways away, a face to face conversation may not be possible. In this situation, a phone call is your next best option. Sometimes the person you need to forgive is dead so a face to face or a phone conversation is not possible. In this case, writing them a letter is an option. Another option might be to visit their grave and talk to them there.