The Transforming Power of Forgiveness

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
Goals For This Session
1. To agree upon a working definition of
forgiveness that we will use for the group’s
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
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
Someone in each group function as a scribe.
At least four areas to get you started (there may be
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
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
• There are lots definitions of forgiveness and lots
of things that people confuse with forgiveness.
Those confusions can act as roadblocks to our
• 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
Developing a working definition of
Two kinds of forgiveness:
1.Decisional Forgiveness.
2.Emotional Forgiveness.
our decision to
forgive goes
ahead by air
mail, while our
come along
later on a slow
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
“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
healing from
God than that
person’s refusal
to forgive
-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
What Did You Get Out Of This Session?
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