Notes on Forgiveness from a Recent Retreat

Last weekend I attended Christ Church of Oakbrook’s 2014 Spa for the Soul women’s retreat at The Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wisconsin.  The featured speaker was Oreon Trickey from LaSalle Street Church in Chicago and notes taken throughout the weekend are found below.

What forgiveness is:

  • letting go of blame, resentment, and the right to retaliate for wrong(s) committed against you
  • releasing yourself from whatever trauma you experienced & reclaiming your life
  • coming to terms with the reality that the world is not fair
  • giving up the right to hurt you for hurting me
  • letting go of the negative storyline we tell others

What forgiveness is not:

  • forgetting
  • sweeping the incident or your feelings under the proverbial rug
  • condoning or excusing an offense

Verses on Forgiveness:

I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. – Isaiah 43:25

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave the guilt of my sin. – Psalm 32:15

Psalm 32:4 reminded me of Matthew 11:30 where Jesus reminds us of the benefit of letting go of our bitterness and anger to embrace the process of forgiveness: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

TD Jakes says that unforgiveness comes when we …

  • have been wounded
  • believe the betrayal has not sufficiently been atoned for
  • feel we have been publicly humiliated and forced to suffer the wound of abuse in silence

To overcome the abuse we must:

  1. tell our story
    1. in all of it rawness and messiness because that’s when it loses its power.
    2. for as long as we need to without allowing it to become our primary identity.
  2. name the hurt (i.e., the feelings beneath the facts)
  3. give ourselves time to grieve
  4. choose to renew or release the relationship

You will know that you are ready to forgive when …

  • you are starting to make your suffering matter.
  • you begin to wish the people who have hurt you well.
  • you own that we are co-creators to situations and the negativity that stems from them.

Renewing does not mean going back to the way it was but there is always hope that it can be better.

Stages of Grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

“Your past is too small to fit you as you grow into the fullness of who you were meant to be.” – TD Jakes

Books on forgiveness that Oreon recommended:

My Takeaways:

We need to …

  • own our stuff
  • see what can be useful and what needs to be discarded
  • don’t unload unwanted emotions on others

Instead of being defined by what someone has done to you, defy it.

Let my story be defined by, not what has been done to me, but by what I have done with it.