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A Self Centered Perspective on Forgiveness

There aren’t too many things in this world that you can give to other people get the most benefit for yourself.  Yes, there are some of you that really love giving gifts rather than receiving but I’m really not like you, I like getting things.

I’ve written a lot about the power of apologizing when we hurt other people.  Today I’m going to share some thoughts on how to react to people that hurt us and how our response can be a huge gift to yourself.

951762_13184252 copyImagine yourself trying to get off the ground in a hot air balloon.  I’ve never actually been in a hot air balloon but I’m going to imagine the process.  I picture myself pulling on the lever that shoots flames up toward the balloon.  Th flame is roaring hot and the balloon above your head is pulling as hard as it can, yet you aren’t leaving the ground.  You notice that tied to the basket are lines attached to heavy weights.  You won’t be able to fly until these lines are untied.  You may be able to rise some but you won’t soar easily until weights are let loose.

I share this immage because it helps me think about forgiveness.  It puts forgiveness into perspective for me.

My tendency when I think about forgiveness is to treat forgiveness like making change at a store.  You grovel for my forgiveness and if I think it is worthy enough, I’ll give you back some forgiveness.  More forgiveness is offered to those who not only ask for it, but really show me they are sorry and won’t do it again.

For some reason I came to the conclusion that I don’t have to forgive until the person asks for it.  How do I know that I believe this?  Well, for one I find myself teaching my girls this process in which one person ask for forgiveness, we make sure it is done with the right words and tone and then the other person give forgiveness.

I’ve been reading Andy Andrews book, “The Travelers Gift” as well as the expanded “The Seven Decisions” and number six of his seven decisions is, “I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.”  For the first time I realized that forgiveness has little to do with the other person and has everything to do with me.

I’m freed when I forgive the other person.  The power of forgiveness isn’t limited by the other person even knowing that they hurt me, asking or even deserving my forgiveness.  Like the hot air balloon, I’m being held down when I don’t forgive other people.

Andy points out that the Bible doesn’t make our forgiveness of others dependent on the other person.  The choice and motivation lies with us.  I’ve been putting off writing about forgiveness because it seems like teaching manners rather than a tactical move.  I am finally writing it because I’m learning that forgiveness is meant to set us free and when things go really well, even the other person.

Yes, there is great relationships restoration when you forgive the person directly but not all situations require restoration of the relationships.  I may choose to not have contact with someone for the good of both of us but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t forgive.

Why am I sharing this on this parenting blog?  I find that I’m held back as a parent when I can’t forgive others or myself.  When I’m living and hurting in the past, I have a hard time being present in the future.  Also, we can help our kids thrive by helping them focus on things that bring life rather than destruction.  Harboring anger and resentment will rob them of life and our job is to help process life’s hurts.


Here are some ways that I’m trying to teach my girls about forgiveness.

  • Model it by forgiving people without being asked.
  • Share times in which you let yourself down and how you had to learn from that and forgive yourself.
  • Look for themes of forgiveness in their stories and movies and make it a point to talk about what that character believed about forgiveness.
  • Ask them what they think about Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Question:  How have you experienced forgiveness setting you free?  What are you doing to teach your kids?[reminder]