There are several definitions of forgiveness. Some people prefer to define the term as the act of wiping the slate clean. Psychologists commonly define the action as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance towards an individual or a group, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. Today while attending the last Sunday service of 2014 at Christian Culture Center (CCC), Pastor Jamaal Bernard, the son of Senior Pastor A.R. Bernard, delivered a sermon on forgiveness and how one can truly learn how to release anger and/or bitterness.
Like me, I’m sure many of you struggle with the act of forgiveness. Perhaps you believe if you forgive individuals for what they’ve done to you, then you’re excusing the individuals for their wrongdoing. Maybe you believe you should seek retribution. Forgiveness is not an easy task when you feel wronged, but it is essential we learn how to pardon an offender in order to move forward and receive the blessings that is in store for us. How do we do that? Here are four elements of forgiveness you should practice in 2015.
- Practice Maturity. Maturity is a vital component in forgiveness. Like Pastor Jamaal said, “You cannot solve a problem at the same level you entered.” In other words, without the ability to mature, grow and accept your part in the problem, you will not be able to truly exercise forgiveness. Both parties involved in a situation or argument are responsible for it. However, only a mature person will be able to acknowledge his or her part in order to move forward.
- Have Faith. Exercising faith means understanding there is no guarantee the individual(s) is going to change, but you choose to forgive the individual regardless. Whether or not the person change should not governing your forgiveness. Just because you forgive the person does not mean you have to trust that individual again. “Forgiveness is a gift, trust is earned,” Pastor Jamaal stated.
- Pray. As a believer in Christ, I personally believe in prayer. However, if you believe in another higher source, I suggest mediating to reach a higher level of awareness. Taking the time to pray or mediate gives you the moment to focus on finding the strength to forgive.
- Set Expectations. Once you’ve forgiven an individual you have to set boundaries and expectations. Change the space between you and the individual. As stated previously, trust is earned and so is that intimate space. Allow the individual to prove why s/he should not only have your trust back, but also be granted with the opportunity to share your intimate space again.
All four elements are vital to exercising forgiveness. More importantly, whether it is an intimate relationship or platonic, forgiving an individual is for you not for the individual. You have to dig deep within to find that willingness to forgive.
Remember: Like Pastor Jamaal said, “God says when you forgive, it does not extract the memory, but what forgiveness does is it extracts the hurt, the anger, the bitterness from your life that is going to hurt you from going somewhere else.”
Instead of missing your blessing(s) in 2015 forgive those you perhaps should have forgiven years ago. Do not conclude 2014 with the same resentment to any individual. Free yourself.
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