Chapt er 1 The Beginning of the Ends What if we told you that forgiveness is the justified end to anger? Would you be surprised if we told you that anger is Biblical? Would you be excited? Would you be relieved? Would you make that little huffy-puffy noise and blurt out a huge ?duh??Whatever your reaction, there?s a catch, a caveat, if you will. Yeah, it turns out you don?t just get to be angry because someone wronged you. God designed woman to be a helpmate to man. God designed us around a rib to be complementary and supplementary to men in almost every way. What that means is that He took the care to make sure He didn?t replicate a male. And for anyone who has ever been on a playground and seen the interactions between a couple of little boys fighting compared to a couple of little girls fighting, they have witnessed firsthand the physiological difference in how males handle anger as opposed to the feminine mystique. It could be argued that
society plays a role in that as well. It?s more traditionally acceptable for boys to take a swing, rub a little dirt on it and get up and be besties again. Society has made it a bit more difficult for girls. Emotionalization of anger has become completely acceptable. For little girls, that often looks like this: crying, tattling, being made to apologize, asking for a hug or a handshake and then seeking revenge through destructive gossip, holding a grudge, defamation campaigning, and isolation of the person who was the opposing force. As little girls grow into teenagers, the emotionalization continues, only the emotionalization turns into a pressure to conceal. ?Don?t let them see you cry,?we counsel our young women who have been spurned by friends or boyfriends. ?You?re better than that.?These phrases and we admit that we have used them, in fact, we used them when counseling one another, produce a reaction that stays with a young woman for the rest of her life: seething. Women are seethers. There is scientific proof, an actual physicality that proves this fact. In 1993, Dr. Sandra Thomas did a large-scale study of anger in women. Thomas, director of doctoral nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, conducted an investigation that included 535 women between the ages of 25 and 66 and found that anger in women is mostly rooted in three things: powerlessness, injustice and the irresponsibility of others. (Dittman). And while other studies suggest that women and men experience anger in similar ways, the way they deal with it is separated by a broad spectrum. Raymond DiGiuseppe, Ph.D., chair of the psychology department at St. John's University in New York, surveyed 1,300
people ages 18 to 90 in his research to develop a new anger disorder scale. He investigated 18 subscales of anger, including how individuals experience their anger, how long the anger lasts and what causes their anger. What he found out says much about how women react to anger. There were no significant differences in the anger scores of men and women, but there were differences in the way that men and women experience anger. Men scored higher on physical aggression, passive aggression and dealing with their anger on impulse. DiGiuseppe also found that men had a higher revenge motive and scored higher on coercing others. Women will stay angry longer than men, carry more resentment and are less likely than men to express their anger. He also found that women used indirect aggression by ?writing off? people or intending not to speak to them ever again because of their anger. (Dittman) We can relate, right?In fact, women have mastered this. We have closed people off from our friendship, from our families, from our children. It takes something extraordinary and perilous to ?write off? people. It takes hardness. And we admire and adore hardness, so much so that we seek out ways to make ourselves frozen. We admire people who are frozen, who can ?handle?things, or give the appearance that they are handling things. We refer to others, those who help us become frozen, as our ?rock?when they blow the chilly winds over our seething, oozing wounds. We are treading on thin ice, here right? Pardon the pun, but some of us become very uncomfortable with the idea that we are giving the
wrong advice when we are trying to support others. But we have to get uncomfortable if we are going to change. And we have to turn to God to find the comfort to replace what we once considered our ?good advice.?We have to replace our good advice with God?s love, God?s word, and God?s wisdom. But before we can even go there, before we can even go to that place where we can literally lay our grudges on the altar before our Heavenly Father, we have to figure out what our grudges are, and this is the most robust piece of work that we are ever called to do because it means that we are going to have to rip off the scabs that have grown over the seething, oozing wounds and dive into them. If you think it sounds icky, wait until you are actually in there. Why do it, then? Because of God. Because He is a jealous God. Because He wants all of your beautiful spirit and soul and if you have written someone off under the guise of ?forgiveness?then you have locked them away in a part of your heart and your mind that is never again opened. And that means that a piece of you is theirs, not yours, not God's, but in the hands of the person that you hate, that you have become indifferent toward, the person who owns a piece of you. God wants to move in you and through you, but He can?t move in that place because it doesn?t belong to Him, and it certainly no longer belongs to you. That is the harsh reality of false forgiveness. It is false, and it is breaking God's divine law: you should have no other gods before me. Your inability to forgive in the fullness of God is an idol that you hold above your relationship with God. And until you can recognize,
realize and accept that fact, and it is a fact for most women because it is how we are socialized, cultivated and decorated most of our young lives, then we cannot move forward in your work. What now, then? Begin the work. Begin the hard work. The worst part of all of it is there is no formula for it. What works for one of us, may not work for the other 99 percent of us. But we do have some suggestions and some exercises, some busy work that might turn into some valuable excavation. But only if you are willing to do it. It will mean opening up old wounds, traveling down some ugly, awful roads and confronting the past in a way that you don?t want to confront it. But God is the Great Comforter, the Great Physician and He is a good, good Father. He wants you to do this; He wanted us to do it. Let?s begin the work.
Suggest ed songs for medit at ion Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin Take Me to the King by Tamela Mann
Suggest ed script ure: Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Act ivit y: W rit ing Them Off During your quiet time, take some time to contemplate and reflect. In the timeline of your mind, go to the first person who ever hurt you enough for you to write them off. Write down that name on two separate sheets of paper. Now locate the second person in your timeline, write down that name. Continue wandering through the timeline, reacquainting yourself with all of the people that you have written off, and generate a list. Take one of the lists and roll it up. Don?t wad it up, roll it like a scroll and tape it shut. Now find a container in your kitchen and fill it up with water. Put the list in that container of water and put it in your freezer. Take the second list and roll it up, just like the first and tape it shut. Go outside and find a rock, a big one. Put the list under the rock. For the next 24 hours, each hour, on the hour, you must check these lists and observe their state. Don?t open them up, don?t touch them. Just check and make sure they are still there. Yes, you have to get up every hour throughout the night. Just to check on them, no matter where you are, you must make sure that the lists of people you have written off are still there, just where you left them. After 24 hours, it?s time for some honesty. You may go and get your lists. You may open them up and look at them? you might have to chip out the one that is in the ice if it is worth your trouble. Or you can just wait for it to thaw out, whichever you prefer. But do not answer the questions until you have access to both lists.
Did you check on them every hour or was it too much triviality to do? If you did check on them every hour, did you feel silly? If you didn?t check on them every hour, do you feel guilty?
What happened to the list underneath the stone?
What happened to the list in the frozen water?
How did you feel when you wrote the first name on the lists? Was it difficult to do?
How did you feel when you wrote the last name on the lists? Was it easier than the first? Was it the same feeling?
As you explored the timeline of people that you have written off, what was your emotionality? Were you angry? Were you sad? Were you self-justifying each person as you put their name on the list?
How old were you when your timeline began?Did you write off your first person as a child or during your childhood when you reflected back as an adult? In other words, was your first choice made by you after reflecting for a brief period or did you instinctively know to harden your heart to those people.
For each person on the list, rewrite their name on a new sheet of paper and write down their offense. What did they do to garner your ?write off??Now, on a scale of 1-5, judge their offense, one reflecting your belief that God would not offer them forgiveness if they asked for it, three being God may forgive them but I will not, five being God has forgiven them.
Write your definition of forgiveness.
Write what you believe God?s definition of forgiveness is.
Keep one of the lists? you?ll need it later.
The Point If you checked it every hour, you know that none of the names on the list under the stone changed. None of the names on the list in the freezer changed either. If you didn?t check it every hour, or completely forgot about it or just didn?t feel like doing it, the names didn?t change. The variable is you. None of the names on the list of your write-offs are ever going to change unless you do something. Seeing them in print, writing them in your handwriting, walking down your timeline, the whole point of this exercise is that they are there, on that list. In your heart of stone, in your icebox, none of the names will ever change until you do something about it. But you can?t. God CAN do something about it. He can perfect the strength that you need to forgive them, to fully forgive them so they can be removed from the stone, taken out of the icebox for good and stop being the blockage to God moving in your life.
Prayer Point s -
Soften my heart toward the people whose names are on the list
Forgive me for not forgiving them
Allow me to flourish in the grace of Your love and forgiveness that You offer so freely for me
Give me strength
Minister peace to my heart as I embark on this journey
Jill?sStory I didn?t really know what forgiveness meant until I had to stare it straight into itsbeautiful face. Here I stood. Placed in thisposition to forgive the impossible. I knew within the deepest part of my heart I had to forgive. I could not let bitternessarise. But, revenge, it wasthere. And it wasugly. I wanted thisman, who I vowed my whole life to, to feel the anguish, the pain, the betrayal that I felt. Lord, knowsI wanted to, but He did not allow me. You see, before I was confronted with the biggest fear, I went to my God in prayer and prayed ?Lord, I know what I am about to face will be difficult. I will hear thingsI feel like I am prepared to hear, but You know I am not. Lord, prepare me, prepare my mind. Keep me steady. Help me remain calm. For I know the greatest human heartache isabout to present itself and I need You now. Stand beside me. Keep me calm. Lord not only be with me but be with my husband. In your preciousand holy name, Amen? Later in the evening, my husband confessed all he had done. We were monthsaway from our 20-year anniversary, and he admitted to having affairsfive yearsinto our marriage. Multiple affairs. ?Jill, I have had affairs. Many affairs.?Those wordsstill ring in my ears today. Thisman, I devoted my life to, isnow sitting acrossfrom me, no longer my husband, but a stranger.
That night I stared forgivenessin itsface. I had to face the best revenge.
Real Women; Real St ruggles
How do you know that you have truly forgiven someone? ?When you decide that being bitter isn't getting you anywhere and they will have to live with what they've done forever. But that doesn't mean that I will EVER forget what they did. The good Lord will take care of them.?
?That?sa hard question. To me, I have forgiven people, but I still keep them in a different place in my heart. And maybe that meansI have not truly forgiven them, but that?sthe only way I can forgive and move on!? ?I do thistoo! Forgivenessisdifferent from forgetting.?
?When you decide to move past what someone did to you and be the bigger person. I?ll never forget what that person did. But it?sbetter in the long run for your own mental health to decide not to let that issue weigh on your shouldersyour whole life. But also no matter whether I forgive them or not, my view of that person will change completely if they really hurt me. You can never truly overlook something that changed your whole perception of somebody.?
?I asked my Pastor the same question when I wasstruggling with a terrible thing that happened to one of my children that seemed to me like something a mother could never forgive and here isthe answer that I got that makessense to me. You have forgiven them when it doesn't totally consume you every second of every day. I said, but when something
happensto them I get angry and resort back to if that had not have happened....! Hisresponse wasquite simply this, "The devil will not tempt you with something he already hascontrol over. If the devil bring it to your mind and you are aware that it hascome to your mind and it isnot just alwaysthere, you are at least headed in the right direction." Can I honestly say that I have forgiven thisperson for what they did to my child....I am still not 100%sure but I am content to live with the fact that I no longer wish them harm (which in thissituation isquite natural) and I am quite content to live in my world and them in theirs?Not sure, I answered your question or that there iseven an answer but definitely one I am seeking the Lord'shelp with daily.?
"When you can talk or even think of that person without the haunting oppressive shadow of anger and hostility taking the front stage of your cognitive thoughts! True forgiveness issupernatural through Christ likeness...not from our nature! Thank you Lord when we are able to let go and let God heal."
"When I can look at someone, think about that person, speak about that person, and feel at peace."
"When they don't consume you and your happiness."
"When you think of them or see them, you don?t have that high-octane
ping go off inside of you. You actually hope for blessingson his/her life. You don?t replay the scenariosin your head anymore. A devil might bring the scenario to mind but it doesn?t touch you anymore. That issweet victory in Jesus!"
"When I can look at them and it doesn't hurt anymore. That'swhen I know."
"I think everyone hastheir own way of feeling and with all due respect, I disagree with most of the answersI have read. Forgivenessishard. It'snot a feeling that comesupon you when you're not mad anymore, that's indifference, and some people still don't forgive at that point. I believe that you can forgive someone when you're still hurting deeply over what they've done, but you have to want to. You have to dig deep, be a bigger person, and love them in spite of what they've done (or continue to do) even if they don't ask for it. Jesusgave usthe perfect example as he was being tortured on the crosswhen he said through hispain and tears, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." Forgivenessisn't a feeling like love, or hate, it'san intention. And it takesa strong person to forgive."
"Forgivenessisnot an emotion it isa hard thing to do."