There are fundamentally three stages of forgiving that all humanity goes through. However, each of us being unique in our own ways will go through these stages through the filters. These filters our of our own upbringing, environment, experience and wisdom that God has given us.
Stage One-Rediscovering the Humanity
It is human for us to filter what has happened to us through our own hurt and pain. In doing this, the truth in the matter can get muddied. We begin to see only what this person did to us and not the person. We end up shrinking the person and only seeing the wrong this person did to us.
Forgiving is an art and in the next several weeks, we will be looking at various parts of forgiving and what forgiving is not. Forgiving our enemy does not mean we will make him into a close friend, promising spouse or trustworthy partner. It doesn’t diminish the wrong done to us. Our forgiveness does not mean we will ever look at this person the same way again. We don’t forgive blindly thinking this person will never wrong us again.
In rediscovering the humanity of a person, we are separating the person from the wrong. We are taking the person back into our inner world as the human being they are and the human nature that we share. We begin to separate the person from the wrong and discover this newer perception shows all the truth. And it is the truth that ultimately will set us free.
I recently was wronged very deeply by the place I taught as a preschool teacher for the last 5 years. To summarize, I was being robbed of 20% of my income, beaten down and devalued all without any compassion or care. All this within a Christian preschool within my own church. Ouch! It hurt bad and it takes time to go through the forgiving process.
In those first 24 hours of this deep wrong happening, my mind was in chaos with all the emotions and thoughts going through it.In the wee hours of the night being unable to sleep, I finally opened my Bible asking God to give me something from His Word to hold onto. Psalm 32:8 The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” He did advise me. He reminded me to step back from all the emotions of the pain I was feeling and see the person. What I saw was a person who was being deceived by the enemy to believe that what she was doing was right. I realized her human sinful nature within her was the real enemy and not her herself.
Is it easy to take a step back from our emotions? No, but it is the first step we need to take to help us get the bigger picture. Rediscovering the humanity of a person who wronged us doesn’t mean we tolerate the wrong, excuse the wrong or hide the wrong away along with all the feelings that came with it. It means we are approaching the situation through the lens of truth and starting down the pathway of the healing of forgiveness.
We have to look up to see what’s really in front of us.
Next time, we will take a close-up look at stage two of the process of forgiving. Stay tuned.