The Transforming Power of Forgiveness: How to become a more forgiving person Session 2 Martin’s E-Mail: [email protected] Session 2 What Is Forgiveness? • Last session we tried to see the Biblical context for forgiveness. • Today we begin our work at discovering how to forgive. – by making a decision to forgive and by experiencing emotional forgiveness. • First task is to define what we mean by forgiveness. Goals For This Session 1. To agree upon a working definition of forgiveness that we will use for the group’s purposes. 2. To understand that there are many reasons to forgive. 3. To understand that we often hold on to past hurts by worrying and ruminating about them. Starting Thoughts and Questions • The OT uses two different words for forgiveness and the NT uses several different words to get across the concept of forgiveness. Each word has slightly different meaning based on the purpose and context of the writer. All of these are typically translated “forgive” or some related word (forgiving, forgiveness). Does it make sense that we may in English also make some finer distinctions on types of forgiveness? Starter Thoughts and Questions • Does it really matter how forgiveness is defined? • Why should I forgive? – Should I forgive primarily so I don’t carry around anger, resentment, etc.? – Should I forgive because I get physical, emotional, relationship or spiritual blessings? – Should I forgive out of obedience because scripture says to? – Should I forgive because God first forgave me? – Should I forgive to bless the person who harmed me? Exercise: Identifying the Benefits of Forgiving Someone in each group function as a scribe. At least four areas to get you started (there may be others): 1. Benefits to physical health. 2. Benefits to mental health. 3. Benefits to relationships. 4. Benefits to my spiritual life. What are the benefits of forgiving within each category? Great story of forgiveness Louie Zamperini "It's as if the doctor had cut the hating part of my brain away." Developing a working definition of forgiveness • There are lots definitions of forgiveness and lots of things that people confuse with forgiveness. Those confusions can act as roadblocks to our forgiving. • Exercise 2-4 • Lots of things people describe as forgiveness. • Which two of the examples are forgiveness? Note: it is equally important to figure out why each act on the list is not forgiveness. • Discuss the definitions and reactions in your group. Developing a working definition of forgiveness Two kinds of forgiveness: 1.Decisional Forgiveness. 2.Emotional Forgiveness. “Sometimes our decision to forgive goes ahead by air mail, while our emotions come along later on a slow boat” David Seamands • Most times the decision to forgive comes first and then the emotional change happens. • On other (rarer) occasions, someone will start to feel better about a person and then chose to forgive. Why Do We Hurt? • See Exercise 2-5 • Think about the kinds of hurt you experience. • Disappointment: I did not get from the person some things I wanted, some things I looked forward to, or some things that I expected. • Rejection: I experienced the loss of some important parts of our relationship and felt that some personal flaw of mine might have been the cause of the loss of the relationship. • Abandonment: I was left behind, physically or emotionally. This experience left me feeling fearful and insecure about the future. • Ridicule: I was the object of his/her anger and mockery. I sometimes wonder if the ridicule was deserved or accurate. • Humiliation: I lost every shred of pride and dignity I had. • Betrayal: My confidence was completely destroyed. • Deception: I was lied to, cheated on, or deceived. • Abuse: I was treated in a way that degraded who I am and robbed me of my dignity, emotionally, physically, or sexually. • Separated, unconnected, or estranged: I felt a loss of connection. • Other: What were they? Why Do We Hurt? Basic psychological needs: 1. Love 2. Significance The ways we invest our time (in relationships and activities) are valuable because they meet these two basic needs. Why Do We Hurt? 1. We long for relationships which make us feel loved and accepted. 2. We long for meaningful activities which tell us that our actions make a difference and that we are worth something. Why Do We Hurt? • Hurtful or offending actions by others take away from our basic needs for love and significance. • The effects of their assaults on or security (love) and significance can include: – Negative emotions. – A desire for retaliation or revenge. – A sense that our offenders are indebted to us for what they did. Nurturing the Hurt (exercise 2-6) • It isn’t the hurts or offenses per se that lead to unforgiveness. It’s the ruminating about the hurts and offenses. • Put another way, its not the evil perpetrated against us that always causes us problems. Often its our reaction to that evil that can really become a problem. Nurturing the Hurt Exercise 2-6 In your small group discuss: 1. Are there any ways that you are possible nurturing the hurt in you mind now? Can you think of ways that you think about those events that may continue the pain? 2. What are some to the payoffs of nurturing your hurt? 3. What are some of the costs of nurturing your hurt? “If you retain in your spirit the debt the offender owes you, that offense will rob your heart of its capacity to love.” Francis Frangipane “There is no greater blockage to a person’s receiving healing from God than that person’s refusal to forgive others.” - -Charles Kraft If you could really be in tune with God’s heart… • What do you think would be His desire for you in light of the hurt you carry? Can we agree: 1. God would not want us to nurture the hurt. (it brings us pain, anger, resentment, bitterness, hostility, etc… 2. God would want us to grant forgiveness (decisional forgiveness) and then seek a lasting peace. (emotional forgiveness.) Experiencing Decisional Forgiveness • If God wants us to make a decision to for give the person we are working to forgive during these sessions, let’s try and do it now. • Remember, a decision to forgive is a decision about how you intend to act toward that person from this point forward. • We are going to try our best to decide to forgive, to release our anger and desire for revenge, to try to commit to treating the person as a valuable person of worth in the future. Experiencing Decisional Forgiveness • It might be that you truly can make a decision to change your intentions and you may feel relief. BUT… this does not necessarily take away all anger, hurt, bitterness, yet. • Some of you will be able to grant decisional forgiveness and others may not. • That’s OK, because the rest of the sessions are aimed at helping you reduce those emotions and replace them with more positive emotions. Experiencing Decisional Forgiveness A body exercise • Everyone standing… • Imagine the hurt you are working with held tightly in your hands. Because God redeems our life though Jesus: Pain does not have the last word! What Did You Get Out Of This Session?