Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

No Satisfaction Needed

Tuesday, March 31st, 2020

At the cost of repeating myself, I want to note that in all these psalms there is no need for anyone to die. When a person turns to God from a wrongful path, divine forgiveness of sin is a gift generously given, pressed down and overflowing, because of the goodness of the God who loves them: “as far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us” (Ps 103:12). No satisfaction is needed.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Don’t Get Stuck on the Grievance Channel

Saturday, March 28th, 2020

Our hurt feelings are important, but we help ourselves to remember they will pass. I work with many people who struggle to trust their good feelings. They are more comfortable when their painful feelings come to visit, like annoying relatives who do not know when to leave. These people’s remote controls are stuck, and they do not know how to bring them in to the shop to be fixed. Being stuck in a cycle of pain makes it easy to forget that negative feelings are no more real than positive ones.

Love, feelings of appreciation and gratitude, and the ability to notice beauty are all real. They are important. They are deep expressions of the human experience. Unfortunately, many disappointed and hurt people develop the bad habit of focusing more on their hurts than their blessings. This keeps them stuck in a cycle of pain and the sense that lasting peace and love are out of their grasp. Even good feelings will change and pass on. Some days we see the cup as half full and some days as half empty. To have a deep and full life, we need to be able to experience all of our emotions appropriately. The problem is we cannot find the full range of human experience when our remote is stuck on the grievance channel.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 170

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Loving Like Christ

Tuesday, March 24th, 2020

With this experience with Christ, we discover we too can love lavishly, and that love covers a multitude of sins in the world. We discover that the more we forgive others, the more love fills our hearts and crowds out old hurts and resentments. More and more sin’s power over us is repealed and the power of love is displayed. While it is sometimes unwise to drop all boundaries with someone who may hurt us again, lavish love allows us to forgive a person from a distance so that we no longer feel anger or contempt or repetitively re-experience our wound on the movie screen in our mind. Jesus’ call to forgive overcomes the injury and helps us heal. Love lavishly and we are not tempted to use words of contempt or spread unkind stories about another person. This call to constant love is not a dreamer’s verse. It is a description of what it means to follow Christ and live out the lavish love he told his disciples would be the basis and norm of their new life.

— Tom Berlin, Reckless Love, p. 60

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, March 22, 2020

Hope Amid the Horror

Friday, March 6th, 2020

More than five hundred years before Jesus’ death on the cross, Second Isaiah proclaimed that the God who created heaven and earth was redeeming and saving Israel and forgiving their sin out of the infinite depths of divine compassion. This God is forever faithful and does not need anyone to die in order to be merciful. It is strange to contemplate how Christian preaching in the tradition of the satisfaction theory seems to assume that some seismic shift suddenly changed the divine character, so that Jesus’ death was necessary to win favor for sinners. One hears that he came to die, and without the cross we would not be saved, as if at some point the flow of divine mercy were shut down, needing Jesus’ death to start it up again. As we will discover, however, rather than making a necessary gift to placate divine honor, Jesus’ brutal death enacts the solidarity of the gracious and merciful God with all who die and especially with victims of injustice, opening hope for resurrection amid the horror.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 50

Photo: March 6, 2015, South Riding, Virginia

Stop Trying to Change People

Saturday, February 29th, 2020

The upset we feel when others do not change in the way we want them to is what forgiveness resolves. Forgiveness helps us stop wasting our time trying to change people who do not want to change. Forgiveness allows us to regain control of our lives as we try less to control the lives of others. Forgiveness allows us to manage the effect of other people’s hurtful actions in our lives….

We can never forgive something as vague as a person’s traits, temperament, or personality. At best, we can forgive specific behavior that we hypothesize reveals the person’s character. This is an important distinction, and one that can save us a lot of pain. We can see behavior, but we can only guess at character. Criticizing someone’s character is not the best way to spend our limited resources of energy and time. To forgive, we need to focus on the behaviors, such as harsh speech and unkind action, that were at variance with what we wanted.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 160-161

Photo: Centreville, Virginia, February 6, 2010

Healing Grievances with Positive Intention

Friday, January 24th, 2020

You will discover as you tell your positive intention story that you feel better. One reason is that you are closer to telling a balanced story. This is because each of us has many experiences. Negative ones are not more important than positive ones. A grievance freezes a hurtful experience into an unchangeable solid. Then it rents too much space in our mind and leads to feelings of helplessness. The truth is that wounds hurt, but they do not have to be crippling.

Each of us can forgive those who have hurt us. When we put our grievances into the perspective of challenges to our goals, we are giving an accurate account. Everything that hurts us is a challenge to our happiness. It is a challenge to be happy in this world. Wounds can cripple the happiness only of those who do not know how to cope and forgive. Finding our positive intention helps us connect with the big picture. Telling a positive intention story reminds everyone who hears us that we are a hero and not a victim. We deserve the best, and forgiveness helps us find it.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 153

Photo: Twin Peaks, California, January 1, 2020

Your Positive Intention Story

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

There is no one perfect way to construct a positive intention. I have provided guidelines I know will work. What is critical is how you change your story to center on a larger goal and not on the grievance. You do this by reminding yourself that your small goals are not the same as your big goals. You take the hurt off center stage in your life and put your healing there instead. When you start to tell yourself and other people your positive intention story, you facilitate healing that you may not have thought possible.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 152

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, September 2, 2019

Positive Intention

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

If you imagine each positive intention as a road, then the next step is to see yourself driving on that road toward your goals. When you are young you may be riding a bicycle on the road and then as you age you may drive progressively more expensive cars. Now, say you are forty-five and your teenage son leaves home under a cloud. Or, say you are forty-five and your wife leaves you for another man. Or, say you are forty-five and your business fails and you were cheated. Your positive intention of a loving family or business success has taken a hit. For the sake of this exercise picture your loss as a tire blowout on the road of intimacy. I know when this happens many of us would more readily picture this as a head-on collision, but remember we can recover from the loss of a spouse, business, or relationship with a child.

In this image you find yourself on the side of the highway trying to change a flat tire. Remember, it is common for obstacles to emerge. Maybe no one has ever taught you how to change a tire and you stand there confused and scared. Alternatively, you let your spare tire get flat and you are struggling to use an underinflated tire. You are then trying to figure out when the next highway patrol officer will come by. Throughout this experience you are likely muttering under your breath that you do not have time for this, that you are late for an important meeting….

As we connect to our positive intention we begin to find forgiveness. Forgiveness is the peace we feel as we cease resentment toward our car. Forgiveness is the peace that comes from understanding we are responsible for whether or not we feel okay. Forgiveness is the compassion we experience as we remind ourselves that by driving a car we run the risk of a breakdown. Forgiveness is the power we get as we assert that we have a deep well of resilience to draw upon. Forgiveness is the grace that helps us remember, while on the side of the road, we can look around and appreciate our beautiful surroundings.

Forgiveness is the positive feeling we have as we review the myriad of times our car ran perfectly. Forgiveness offers us peace as we remember the problem could have been worse. Forgiveness is the power we feel as we create a hero’s story where we overcome difficulties. In our hero’s story we talk about how well we coped and how little need we had to blame. In that story we remind others and ourselves that we are a survivor.

— Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 144-145

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, August 14, 2019

Grievance Stories Turned Positive

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

In any grievance story, someone does not get what he or she wants. Unacknowledged is that behind each painful situation is a positive intention. Once found and reclaimed, the positive intention alters the grievance story. The story is no longer just about the person and or situation that caused pain but about the goal that was not quite reached. Suddenly, instead of just recycling pain, the grievance story becomes a vehicle for learning how to change to attain that goal. The grievance story becomes a part of the positive intention story.

The person or event that hurt us is important insofar as we can learn from the situation. In no way, though do we allow our grievance to distract us from our goal. If we continue to pursue our goal, we exact the greatest revenge on someone who has hurt us. We move on. We find peace.

— Dr. Fred Luskin, Forgive for Good, p. 143

Photo: Torrey Pines State Reserve, California, July 10, 2015

No Satisfaction Needed

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

All four gospels depict how in his teaching and practice Jesus revealed a different, non-feudal picture of the way God deals with sin. Think of the parables of the shepherd going after his lost sheep and the woman searching for her lost coin, both rejoicing with their neighbors when they find the one who has strayed, no satisfaction needed. Remember the parable of the forgiving father who runs out to embrace the returning prodigal son, throwing a party to welcome him back, no payback required. Recall the paralytic who, after Jesus assured him that his sins were forgiven, took up his pallet and walked away, no atonement given. Call up the story of the Pharisee and the publican in the temple; when the publican prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” he goes home justified, nothing more required. Keep in mind Luke’s depiction of Jesus himself, forgiving his executioners as his life ebbed away, no satisfaction needed.

— Elizabeth A. Johnson, Creation and the Cross, p. 6

Photo: Iona, Scotland, July 13, 2003