Continued from here.
I have found that until I have progressed in the process of forgiveness, I am not in a good place to make decisions about reconciliation. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a process rather than a particular moment. As you pray for the offender day after day, you will gradually release the anger and bitterness, which leaves room to invite God in to heal your pain. The more deeply you or your loved one was hurt, the longer this process might take.
The other important part of forgiveness is holding your thoughts captive to Christ. When we are hurt, it’s natural to focus on our emotional wounds. As we do, they grow larger in our minds. If we are not careful, our perspective can shift so that the pain seems larger than our God.
The truth is that God is bigger than your pain. Thus, we must remove our eyes (focus) from our pain and place them back onto God, where they belong. To do this, I recommend looking up scriptures in the Bible that remind you of what God says to do when someone hurts you. Then, whenever you are tempted to think about the offenses against you, pray for the offender and meditate on applicable scripture.
For example, let’s say Sonja is tempted to mull over what the offender did to her child. Rather than give in to the temptation to rehash all that has happened, Sonja can say a prayer for the offender. She can then meditate on applicable passages of scripture, such as the following:
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. ~ Matt. 6:14
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. ~ Matt. 18:21-22
Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. ~ 2 Cor. 2:7-8
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ~ Col. 3:13
While this won’t be easy for Sonja, it really is this simple. If she uses each thought of the offender as a reminder to pray for her and reinforces what God says to do through meditating on scripture, her focus will return to God, putting her in a better place to make reconciliation decisions.
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace sitting on a beanbag chair, drinking coffee and reading the Bible. Courtesy Bitmoji.]