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FORGIVENESS: THE ROAD TO HEALING

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 Forgiveness begins by admitting you have been offended. At this point you start with acknowledging the offense. You cannot quickly rid yourself of the offense until you bring it to the surface and call it for what it is. Forgiveness doesn’t remove or delete offenses from our lives. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you go into denial and forget this ever happened to you. Forgiveness will not erase your memory clean. What forgiveness does is to remove the power of that memory over your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t declare that what the offenders did is now OK. Instead, forgiveness takes an offense seriously, without trying to pass it off as an insignificant and trivial matter. Every wrong produces an indebtedness that we feel. Have you ever heard someone say, “You owe me an apology!”? If I offend you, then I have created a debt and am obligated to pay it. Forgiveness means that you must release what you are owed and not give your offenders what they deserve. Forgiveness acknowledges the debt but you are choosing to cancel it. This is the essence of forgiveness – releasing the other person’s indebtedness to you.

Forgiveness means that you are releasing the offender into the care of Jesus who is our just Judge and our Defender. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:19).

When we hang on to the offense and refuse to release it, we are deciding that we want to stand in God’s place and take our own revenge rather than let our Just Judge do it. Genuine forgiveness recognizes that we do not have the right to become the enforcers of justice. To render justice to the offender, it would have to pass through us first since we are standing between God and the offender. Having bound ourselves to our offender through retaining the offense and standing in God’s role in seeking to render our own revenge, we position ourselves right in the middle of God’s line of sight standing between Him and the offender. For God to have access to the offender to bring about justice, we must release the offender and the offense out of our hands and into the hands of God, our perfect and holy Judge.

One reason you may not want to forgive is because you fear having to reconcile with the other person. However, forgiving a person doesn’t mean that reconciliation is the inevitable next step. While forgiveness is always necessary, reconciliation is not. Sometimes reconciliation is impossible because the offender is dead or unreachable. In addition, your offender may not even have any desire to be reconciled. Forgiveness depends on the offended releasing the debt of the offender irregardless of whether the relationship is restored. The offender could be a person who sexually molested you, a person who verbally belittled you, one who physically abused you, or one who betrayed you. If you have been wounded and the potential of further wounding is possible or even probable, safe boundaries are necessary.

Here’s the clincher. Your offender still has power over you until you forgive. That ought to irritate you if nothing else. You could be sitting around, angry as you can be, thinking that as long as you do not forgive, you are punishing your offender(s), while in the meantime your offenders can be going about activities of their daily routine enjoying themselves, not even thinking about you, much less concerned about you, and going on with life. But NO! You are punishing them, right? Who really is getting punished?

The result of forgiveness is the freedom to pursue the purposes of God for your life. Unforgiveness stifles God’s destiny for our lives. It clouds our motives. It pollutes our purpose. It tempts us to deviate from our course. When unforgiveness is present, we find ourselves weighed down and easily worn out. When we have a heart that is willing to forgive, then the weights that hinder us are gone.

You can identify the seed of what you have been sowing by examining the fruit of the crop you are harvesting, both good and bad. Whatever we give out, whether good or bad, will be given back to us in greater portions. That is the law of the harvest. We reap back what we sow, we reap later than we sow, and we reap more than what we sow. So, we have a choice in what we reap; the effects of blessing or the effects of cursing. When we suffer the effect of a curse, the suffering is essentially the damage and ruin toward ourselves for not choosing to give what we have received.

We can receive mercy without giving it. We can receive God’s forgiveness of sins without forgiving others who have sinned against us. When we do not give, we shut off the flow of grace from our lives. As a result, spiritual, emotional, and possibly even physical diseases are given permission to operate in us. Another thing that happens when we refuse to forgive is that we are cursing ourselves. Our tongue can bring blessing or it can bring cursing. Whatever we send forth from our tongue is what we reap. Whatever we send forth with our words returns to us. That is why we are told to “bless our enemies” and “bless those who curse you.” James 3:8-10 says, “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth came both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

When people have not forgiven their parents for wounding they received earlier in life, they cut themselves off emotionally from their parents, often vowing never again to relate to them or be like them. The effect is that you cut off your inheritance. Your parents, regardless of whether they were good or bad, have a source of blessing that is your rightful godly spiritual inheritance. Even though it is difficult to see it in some parents, there is blessing somewhere up the family line that we need to call down to ourselves. Bitterness puts up a wall that shuts off any spiritual family inheritance because we simply can’t receive. As a part of this same thing, we all have a masculine and feminine heritage that is passed on to us. Bitterness can shut down and your vow can cut off what God would want passed on to you. The same is true if you have bitterness against the pastor or a teacher in your church.

When an ungodly stronghold rules your life, you find yourself becoming a slave to your thoughts and those thoughts controlling you rather than you controlling your thoughts. When I use this term in this section, I am referring to a negative place that rules, controls, or dominates your thoughts and therefore dictates negative behaviors. When you have a stronghold of bitterness you have lost control of how you feel towards another person or situation. Since bitterness is nothing more than unfulfilled revenge, you stay angry or vengeful in your attitudes even though you might even act cordial on the outside. At this point, you have become enslaved to the bitterness, to the person, or to the situation. They have the power over you. As long as you can’t forgive, bondage prevails. Bitterness then becomes the personal damage that you do to yourself because you have chosen to either not forgive or feel powerless to forgive.

It is important to understand that there is a process in which a stronghold is built. Strongholds are not built overnight, but over a period of time when we do not address an issue appropriately by letting grace rule in our hearts. All strongholds begin when we open a door and give the devil a place in which to operate. Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil an opportunity.

The word “opportunity” is defined as “opportunity, power, place of operation, an area of legal control.”It refers to the first step in opening the door to yielding legal jurisdiction. It is also translated in many different ways. It is translated as “foothold” in the New International Version. The King James Version translates it as “place” while the New Revised Standard says, “Do not make room.” The New Century Bible conveys the meaning as it translates the verse – “Do not give the devil a way to defeat you.”

The devil wants a base of operation in our lives. Although we have protection by what Christ did on the cross on our behalf, we can still provide such a place if we choose to harbor sin. Once we surrender some real estate in our hearts, the devil seeks to build on it. He doesn’t rule the whole heart, only the block we let him move into. From there, a stronghold is methodically constructed until this structure of thoughts dominates our minds and is followed by behaviors.

A stronghold of bitterness starts off when we do not deal immediately with offenses. We open the door when we do not forgive and it becomes the devil’s opportunity, his foothold because we gave him room. As long as we allow thoughts of unforgiveness in our heart, we are yielding our thought life to the kingdom of darkness. The demonic thoughts of blame, accusations, self-condemnation, and hate are given the legal right to dwell in our lives. Our demonic adversary wants us to self-destruct with our own bitterness. These thoughts of bitterness are so entrenched in our hearts and mind that we essentially become ruled by them. It is at this point that we can find ourselves helpless to forgive. It is best to be aware of these “opportunities” or “footholds” that open the door and give permission for a stronghold of darkness to become eventually built. Retaining an offense rather than releasing an offense is the first open door.

We can open doors when we entertain a lie and lies become embedded when we believe them. The progression could happen like this: an event occurs in which there is a wounding of the heart. It may have been an actual malicious action that wounded you, or you may have been hurt by your perception of the event as viewed through your filters. Either way, the kingdom of darkness was present to whisper lies into your mind that you received as truth. These lies could be things such as,

“They really don’t care about me…. They think I am worthless…. I am not as loved as my sister (or brother)…. They would rather be married to someone else than to me…. God hates me…. God only created me because He wanted someone to torment…. They only want to destroy me…. I have to punish them… There is no one else to hold this offense against them, so it is up to me…. They don’t deserve to be forgiven…. Someone has to remember what they did.

These thoughts may or may not have actual merit; however, it doesn’t matter because they feel true to you.

When you refuse to forgive, because you have a “right” not to forgive, you not only give the devil a place, or a foothold in an area of your soul, but you are now feeding it. The longer you wait to forgive, the harder it is for you to forgive. The deeper a root grows, the more difficult it is to remove. Though nothing is impossible to God, He demands our cooperation for its removal. The deeper it grows, the more unwilling we become to let the Lord run deep in our lives. To make matters worse, what may reinforce those roots could be the inner vows we make that hold us bondage such as “I will never forgive!’

Excerpts from:

My Father, My Son: Healing the Orphan Heart with the Father’s Love

Author: Bruce Brodowski

ISBN: 9780982658116, Price: $14.99. Format: 250-page trade paperback

Available through: Amazon,Ingram, Spring Arbor, Baker & Taylor

Publisher: CarolinasEcumenical Healing Ministries

Website: http://www.brucebrodowski.com/

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I was fatherless. Were you?

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Orphan Heart manuscript in progress.

 

I am an American World War II Orphan born in June of 1945.  According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 183,000 of us.  Although the precise numbers of World War II deaths are impossible to determine, these represent one set of figures for the number of deaths that occurred. These figures include military and civilian deaths where these were available.   The countries were: USSR, China, Germany, Poland, Japan, Yugoslavia, Rumania, France, Hungary, Austria, Greece, United States, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Great Britain, Great Britain, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Canada, India, Australia, Albania, Spain, Bulgaria, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Luxembourg, and Denmark.  The total was approximately 56,150,000 people.  Thousands more were slaughtered in the trench warfare of World War I.

Therefore, the possible number of forgotten fatherless orphans that has occurred in the world from these wars is astounding.  Some orphans have felt characteristics of an orphan spirit that encompasses a deep dark black empty hole of missing pieces in our lives.  For them, this was the consequence of war.  World War II caused a paradigm shift in the spiritual culture of the world due to the lack of a father’s influence in the home caused due to the deaths of soldiers.  This created an orphan heart/spirit/spiritual orphan circumstance that changed future generations.  However, every fatherless orphan, whether male or female, may feel the same orphan spirit, orphan heart.  The number of fatherless homes continues to increase from generation to generation. .  Even children who have absentee fathers for whatever reason can be affected by the same characteristics of an orphan heart. 

Today more and more children are growing up feeling fatherlessness.  More children than ever are in fatherless homes or those that have physically present biological fathers are without a father emotionally.  Not only is this true in the United States but it is also occurring through out the world.  Millions of children today are feeling they do not have a place of security, protection, comfort, and identity.   A place where they receive a purpose and destiny in their lives.  A place where they receive encouragement and affirmation.

16 million children were newly orphaned in 2003.  Wars orphaned or separated 1 million children from [1][1]their families in the 1990’s.  2-5% of refuges worldwide are kids living without parents.  17.5 million are 0-5 years old, 47 million are 6-11 years old, and 79  million are 12-17 years old.  87.6 million are in Asia, 43.4 million are in Sub Saharan Africa, 12.4 million are in Latin America and the Caribbean, 1.5 Million are in Central and Eastern Europe.  800,000 pass through Americas foster care system each year.[2][2]  UNICEF estimates the number of orphans at approximately 210 million.



 

My dad was killed in WWII before I was born and my mother never remarried.  Therefore, I didn’t have my dad around to affirm to me that I was like him, that I was lovable, and that he loved me.  I didn’t have strong male images in my life to teach me what it meant to be a male child.

 

 I don’t remember my mother being a hugging and loving person that affirmed to me that I was lovable and that she loved me.  Rejection can even be felt by children of well-meaning parents who fail to hug, touch or express affection.  In 1955, the one person in this world who loved me sat me down in grandma’s living room and told me that I must decide where I want to go live if she should die.  My mother was dying of cancer.  October 7, 1955 she passed away.  

 

At the funeral, I shed no tears and I made up my mind that from that time on I would feel nothing.  The orphan spirit was now developing stronger in my life.  I had been betrayed and abandoned. There was no one left to love me and no one I could trust.  My safe and secure home was ripped out from under my feet.  I had begun to develop an orphan heart.

 

 If you grew up fatherless or had an emotionally absent father during 1940-1990, and experienced any of the following characteristics, email to me your story to possibly be included in my book.  ellenandbruce@earthlink.net. 

 

Our trust in parental authority and in others is lost.

We develop a fear of receiving love, comfort, and admonition from others

We close our hearts to intimacy

We develop a “my way or the high way” attitude

We become controlling in our relationships

We enter into an emotional isolation.  I will not allow you to We believe that no one cares about us. 

 

 No one can fulfill our needs.

Passions: We are lonely and insecure.  We seek to fill these needs through other means that often develop into additions to food, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography and what ever else comforts us.

Position is achieved when we win the approval of others.  We constantly seek affirmation that we are worthy, have value, and are accepted by others.  We have a need to fit in.

Performance often leads to becoming a perfectionist.  In order to feel good about ourselves, we constantly have one more thing that we must do.  .  If only we had a better job.  If only I lived somewhere else.  If only I could run away.  

 

People in our lives are there for only one purpose and that is to fulfill all our needs.  

We seek to control emotions, people, or circumstances in order to never be hurt again.

 

 


[1][1] Nordic Journal of African Studies 11(1): 93-113 (2002)

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