loss-abandonment · Loss-abuse · Loss-addictions · Loss-divorce · loss-suicide

LOVE

Today is Valentine’s Day. This makes us think about love. One genuine act of love is FORGIVENESS, a free gift that God gives us every day. Forgiveness is love and counteracts anger, a feeling that a normal part of grief.

In the 1990s, a book called The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent, taught people to forgive others through writing.

When my kids were little, I taught them the four promises of forgiveness (within the context of learning to overlook, talk it out, and get help with conflicts) from Ken Sande’s book The Peacemaker:

I promise I will think good thoughts about you and do good to you (good thought).

I promise I will not bring up this situation and use it against you (hurt you not).

I promise I will not talk to others about what you did (gossip never).

I promise I will be friends with you again (friends forever).

If we read these as an adult, we quickly see that this is not easy to do with severe hurt, but the possibilities of freedom for all involved are huge.

If I forgive someone, I usually focus on the offense and then work to forgive that hurt. Then, if that event/offense comes to mind again, I forgive again (Jesus said 77 x 7), and so on (Matthew 18:21–22).

I thought I knew quite a bit about forgiveness based on these things, but I learned something HUGE this year in the book, Forgive What You Can’t Forget by Lisa Terkeurst. The author has insight into forgiveness: she suggests writing down not only the sin that occurred against you, but all of the EFFECTS that the person’s actions had on you. A friend told me that this is a part of TRAUMA recovery.

The EFFECTS can create so much anger and bitterness, in some ways, without our awareness! The effects are what people are typically dealing with after the offense has occurred. So, yes, forgive the act, but also any effects that came about due to the act. This is powerful.

I forgive you for the act (write it out). I forgive you for the effects (make a list). And keep adding to your list as things occur. Then, if you want to be symbolic and concrete about it, take something red and place it over the list, symbolizing that Jesus died for ALL of this. This is one piece of how to forgive a traumatic event. This sounds simplistic but is a process and may take time. Be gentle with yourself as you try to even think about forgiving a large hurt. Ultimately, it will free YOU. Love yourself and others with the gift of forgiveness.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).

Contributor- L. Vincent

Photo-B. Kerckx

loss-abandonment · Loss-child

Dust to Dust

Dust to dust. Dust to Adam (Genesis 2:7). Adam to dust. Spirit to heaven. Spirit reunites with dust. New body. New Jerusalem (Revelation 21). No tears. No pain. But, for now, sin and brokenness create pain.

As I stare at the stone, I look at the dates. So young. So tragic. Why? What happened? The familiar, repeated whisper: Help me. The sun rises. The breeze blows. Ironically, I look to other gravestones for comfort. I see “1946-died at birth.” Ouch. How hard would that be. We are not alone in losing a child. I search for more. December 23, 1973-December 15, 1974. Less than a year of life. I start a subtraction frenzy, looking at every stone. Imagining what happened. 21 years. 30 years. 89 years. 12 years. A dad and a child died on the same day-maybe a car accident. Veterans: World War II, Vietnam, Korea. Heroic deaths maybe, others maybe not. Each life with its own lifespan. Each life with its own story. Some weak, some strong. I stand realizing, I too will be here one day. No one knows when, where, how. But, death awaits. Therefore, grief awaits. I think of The Book Thief. Someone shared a story of growing up orphaned with me this week and this strangely comforted me: Some of us grieve for a lifetime.

Romans 8:23-24 talks about the suffering and groanings of Christians: “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves (as does the creation), waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

Our groaning is due to the corrupt conditions and sin in ourselves and others. The contrast between who we are and what we will be causes a deep groaning. I’ve never quite felt such groaning before now. But, now I really get this verse. Things are wrong in the world. But, we are to wait patiently, persevering, enduring the suffering, being ready, knowing that what the Lord allows is best. So, we groan, and the Holy Spirit can comfort us as we groan. “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;” The Spirit groans too and links our heart to His and ministers to us in our time of weakness.

Contributor-L. Vincent