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.

The Reality of Remorse

I recently read something on guilt that I wanted to 1) commit to memory and 2) share with all of you. Since posting the information to my blog helps me to accomplish both objectives, this week’s update is more about learning than discerning. My hope is that the former will lead to the latter as you open your divine textbook and meditate on these words from 2 Corinthians chapter 7 verse 10:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

I never understood the difference between the two kinds of sorrow mentioned in this verse until I read the book Boundaries with Teens by Dr. John Townsend. According to the author, the Godly sorrow that the apostle Paul was referring to is remorse and worldly sorrow is guilt. (see p. 40)

Townsend went on to say that guilt (i.e., the feeling of self-condemnation over doing something that hurts another person) is not a helpful emotion because it is centered on our failure instead of the other person’s pain. Remorse, in contrast, is a solution-oriented approach that frees us to be sad and to undo the damage that we have done.

Knowing that guilt is never a good substitute for letting go makes me wonder: Why do some people hold onto it with fists so full of self-condemnation that they will never get a grip on grace?

Life is too short to live with regret so let’s not waste another minute on unproductive thoughts. Instead, the next time we are tempted to nail ourselves to a cross of condemnation, let’s remember that those who know Jesus have no right to take away from what he did to make sure that every sinner can be redeemed.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1