"I Forgive You; I Really Mean It."

Back in September I taught a Marriage Masterclass on forgiveness and so many couples wrote to me with comments and questions.

I understand that the concept of forgiveness can be difficult for you, especially if you have been hurt by your spouse, but remember what I said in the Masterclass, “Forgiveness is like grace; it is not earned but should be given freely.”

Unfortunately, that statement did not sit well with a lot of people only because it requires you to have some spiritual depth and understanding that forgiveness is a supernatural thing. We need God’s power, strength, and love in order to activate forgiveness.

If it were left up to our own might and decisions, we wouldn’t forgive; hence the reason we struggle with it.

I read that to forgive means to “release from punishment.” That’s right, think about WHY you haven’t forgiven your spouse and think about all the hoops and tests you put him/her through to prove their worth for your forgiveness.

Isn’t that something; it seems that we want our spouse to “prove” themselves to us, but God doesn’t make us prove ourselves to Him. God freely gives you grace and you didn’t do anything special to deserve it, yet He keeps giving you grace over and over.

If you haven’t watched the replay of the Marriage Masterclass on forgiveness, go back and do so because it’s some good information in there to help you dig deep, purge and grow.

But for now, I want the four stages of forgiveness, by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, to become your forgiveness ritual.

1. Forego– Leave it alone, stop talking about it and thinking about it. Disconnect from it so that you won’t be emotionally exhausted.

2.  Forebear- Abstain from punishment. It’s not your job nor your role to punish.

3.  Forget– Refuse to dwell. This means you don’t work yourself up with repetitive thoughts. Of course you will remember, but do not allow the memories to occupy prime real estate in your mind on a consistent basis. Move it to the background to make room for better thoughts and memories.

4.  Forgive– Abandon the debt. This is a conscious decision to cease harboring resentment, anger or pain.

Okay, now that you have those four stages, what does God say about forgiveness? 

1. I haven’t read in the Bible where God says “forgive and forget.” He created us and He knows that our brain/minds are designed to recall things. He encourages us to forgive.

2.  He said to keep forgiving over and over; as many times as needed.

3.  He gave us these scriptures to help us: Matt 26:27-29. Matt 6: 14-15, Matt 18: 21-22, Luke 17:3-4, Luke 6:37, Mark 11:25, and Ephesians 4:32.

You might be thinking, “What about trust?” Well, trust is different from forgiveness because it must be earned. Forgiveness and trust do not go hand-in-hand. It’s not, “I gotta be able to trust you before I forgive you.” Nope, that’s not it. Forgiveness is about the past and trust is about the future. Today, I’m encouraging you to forgive and let your marriage move forward.