- Survey of Love and Forgiveness in American Society
- Benefits of forgiveness
- Will forgiveness fix my problems?
- Will everything be ok?
- What is joy vs. happiness?
- Building a “fence”
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So the Fetzer Institute has done a survey, it’s called the survey of love and forgiveness in American society. I want to go over some that. Welcome to the show. I’m Gary Aris, your very own Christian counselor. Thank you for listening to finally live radio whether you’re listening on the radio or the podcast at http://www.finallyalive.com I thank you. We just hit one thousand monthly downloads on our first month of actually tracking the download, so again thank you for supporting and thank you for listening. So as I was saying the Fetzer Institute, has done a survey on forgiveness that is the issue you and I have. We all struggle with this and I’m going to prove it to you throughout the show. Everybody struggles and this is what I mean, there’s two different struggles here that I’m talking about. One is literally not being able to let go and or forgive and notice I separate the two sometimes you can’t forgive, sometimes you have to let go and I’ll explain that in a minute. The second issue is some people can forgive and let go and that can become a problem too. Some people forgive so much that, that ends up making them be the doormat. They let go and they let go and everyone keeps using and using and using them. You are one of the two, as am I and we’ll talk more about that as we keep going. Well, back to the first category of forgiveness notice I said forgiveness and/or letting go. It’s two separate things sometimes we cannot forgive and I’ll quickly define it this way just for the sake of time and simplicity. Generally speaking, the act of forgiveness happens with two people. To technically fully forgive one must ask for forgiveness this is what Jesus says, one must ask for forgiveness to complete the forgiveness. Whether that comes through an apology, act of remorse there will be some sort or type of way of an apology and the one receiving the apology can forgive. Now what if you never get an apology, what if the person doesn’t even exist anymore? What if it’s not a person, what if it’s a thing that has really made you upset? Those are the cases where we must learn to let go. So as you can see there are two categories there and two other categories of some don’t forgive and/or let go. Others forgive and let go too much and they become doormats.
So looking at this statistic, which I have linked on finallyaliveradio.com on the episode page so they asked a couple questions and I want to read off the stats to you here. One of the questions were I need more forgiveness in my personal life, sixty-two percent of the U.S. population that took this questionnaire say that they agreed with that statement they need more forgiveness in their personal life. Sixty-two percent, that’s pretty huge. Another question is we need more forgiveness in the industry or field in which I currently work. Seventy-two percent agreed with that, eighty-three percent agreed with the statement we need more forgiveness in my community. Ninety percent agreed with the statement we need more forgiveness in America, ninety percent, that’s almost everybody who was questioned and then another ninety percent say we need more forgiveness in the world. What do you think of those stats? Do you think the issue of forgiveness is a problem? I think so, I see it every day and I struggle with that one. You know why because we’re human. We have emotions, emotions I think are one of the most complex things, it’s hard to put emotions in a box. We can kind of find a formula for it, but it’s so hard, it still ends up staying in theory because it’s so hard to define and it’s so hard to say what will offend you and what will offend me so it’s very difficult to put all the emotions in a box the best we can do is kind of description and that’s kind of where it ends. Now here’s where the stats get a little interesting and I think this is part of the issue. Sixty percent of the U.S. population that answered these stats agreed with the statement in general, by forgiving someone should depend upon the offender first apologizing and making changes, sixty percent. Another fifty-eight percent agreed with the statement there are instances where people should never be forgiven. Isn’t it interesting ninety percent earlier said that we need more forgiveness, but then we have fifty-eight percent over here saying there are instances where people should never be forgiven. We know what needs to happen, but generally speaking, we’re not willing to do it. I think what happened in that ninety percent category earlier is everyone else needs to forgive I’m not the one struggling. I want to tell you straight to your ear my friend you and I equally struggle with this. It is the problem of being human.
An article from the Harvard Health publications Harvard Medical School, I have the link on the website again, it says Harvard Women’s Health Watch discusses the following five positive health effects of forgiving that have been scientifically studied. Reduced stress, researchers found that mentally nursing a grudge puts your body through the same strains as a major stressful event. Muscles tense, blood pressure rises and sweating increases. Better heart health, one study found a link between forgiving someone for a betrayal and improvements in blood pressure and heart rate and a decreased workload for the heart. Stronger relationships, a 2004 study showed that women who are able to forgive their spouses and feel benevolent toward them resolved conflicts more effectively. Reduced pain, a small study on people with chronic back pain found that those who practice meditation focusing on converting anger to compassion felt less pain and anxiety than those who received regular care, greater happiness. When you forgive someone you make yourself rather than the person who hurt you responsible for your happiness. One survey shows that people who talked about forgiveness during psychotherapy sessions experience greater improvements than those who don’t. I think that is incredibly powerful and how truly forgiveness is exactly what is choking you today. Spiritually, figuratively and maybe physically you know in some cases, it’s just easier to hold a grudge and I hate to say it that way because that’s not every case and we have to look at what a grudge is holding on to the anger which ends up turning to bitterness, it’s no longer anger turns into a bitterness, but holding onto a grudge sometimes deep down ends up being the wall that protects us. So really it ends up being a preservation method, a survival mechanism because we want to keep the hurt outside, but I want to tell you that that isn’t the healthy way of dealing with it. Well, let’s make it clear that there are times that we don’t know any better, especially if you were a child growing up you know who talks about hey, hey, this is how you forgive you maybe have heard that in church or if you’re lucky you had parents who would teach about that most times these things are not talked about usually we pick up how to deal with anger from our parents or whoever raised us. Rarely is forgiveness talked about. We have to realize too, so here’s part of the forgiveness that we’re trying to deal with now for you dealing with yourself. You probably didn’t know how to deal with it any differently, so it’s either I will have belts of anger, screaming shouting, maybe getting violent or self-preservation shutting down. Perhaps a numbness, it isn’t healthy, but if that’s what you have to do at the time, that’s what you have to do. Well, we want to do now, today, this moment is move forward from any of those whether it was the outbursts or the shutting down because you can move forward in Jesus name you can move forward.
I’ve seen it time and time again and I know it can happen remember my stance because I stand on the Bible is there’s always, always, always an answer, it’s just up to you to be willing to accept it. Will you accept the answer whether it’s tough or not? That is the million-dollar question and I know what you’re thinking, oh Gary well what if it was a horrific thing, what if it involved physical abuse or even a murder? Are you telling me you can forgive that? I’m telling you yes. If you want to or you can just hold on to that and deal with all the physical symptoms that I just read from the Harvard article. The beauty of life is this, my friend, you get to choose. You can choose to hold on and harbor or you can choose to move forward, I mean for the sake of putting this into perspective. You and I are not that innocent, I mean Romans 3 vs 23 tells us for all have sinned, all is you and me included. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God that’s you and I. So in the big picture we’re not above another sinner. You and I are as sinful as the next person. So be aware of that pride that you and I both have we have to put that in check because my sin and my sinful nature makes me as filthy as the next person and maybe I’m making this sound like it’s super easy and no it isn’t but let’s talk about that because it’s not easy there’s no reason to say I can’t. Let’s just say what it is, sometimes it’s difficult, sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s hard to let go, sometimes it feels impossible but in God, there’s nothing impossible. If you believe that I urge you to stand in that, to trust in that this is where your faith kicks in. This is where everything within you that trust that you say that you have in God it must kick in. To outdo, to outperform everything else that you believe. This, right now, right here, will you do it? Will you step up and face what you must, will you face your monster? because that’s what this is, it’s a type of monster, but you can do it in the name of Jesus you can do it and are we saying oh now all of a sudden you’ve forgive and everything’s going to be just peachy and wonderful. No, no, there’s nowhere that says that. If I forgive my friend who’s done me wrong are we going to be best friends probably not, it might some cases I’ve seen have but sometimes it won’t. Can you accept that? Can you accept the loss? That’s a lot of what this is. Accepting loss, who likes to accept the loss? Nobody, alright, nobody likes to accept that I struggle with that, but I will not allow that to be an excuse for me to hold on to anger and resentment in my life. The big picture is you do not, I repeat you do not want to live a life of dullness of a grayness and how do you live a dull and gray life, not living your purpose. My friend when you do not forgive and or let go your chances of living that dull numb life skyrockets. You don’t deserve to live a dull life. You deserve to live your purpose what you were made for and everybody has a purpose everybody I don’t care if anybody told you-you’re a mistake or not. You have a purpose God does not make mistakes. Humans can make mistakes, but God doesn’t, so if you exist and you’re here today you have a purpose. Own it, Live it and part of owning and living it is owning up to the fact that even if you deal with this pain that you have, that you’ve harbored. The answer may not be what you wanted or regardless, there’s an answer remember what we said there’s an answer, are you willing to accept that answer whether you like it or not. There’s always an answer but even with that loss or even with the answer that you don’t want to accept. You can still move forward. Maybe you’re doubting me right now you’re saying oh that’s impossible how can that happen if I let go of this how am I going to move forward. You’re just not seeing the answer yet and that’s okay. That’s okay, that’s normal.
Work on forgiveness and see that the answer will begin to develop. It’s not going to happen overnight see, that’s another issue that we have, we are very microwave aged, we think microwave, microwave kind of thinking. It’s destructive thinking you know fast food type of thinking gets you faster to the grave. If I can use a silly analogy, think of mom’s home cooking in the stove, maybe it took a couple hours to prepare and make. What’s in that, there’s love, there’s soul in that food, right. Versus a fast, quick microwave T.V. dinner. I’ll be honest, some of the T.V. dinners I’ve liked, but you can’t compare that to a good home cooked meal and that’s the silly analogy, we’ll use, but a good home cooked meal takes time it takes preparation, you got to put it in that stove in the oven and let it just simmer and kind of slowly prepare. So that later you can enjoy the labor that, that person put into it. So in a weird way be an oven thinker and not a microwave thinker. I just made that up right now but I think you understand the analogy. Microwave thinking is not the way to do it, instant does not do it. Instant gratification is dangerous, instant gratification usually doesn’t have much thought behind it and my favorite example, the Kardashian family. I do not like or agree with their lifestyle because they’re all completely fake. I truly believe they’re completely talentless outside of their money and their plastic surgery. Call me mean, call me what you will, I’m not judging I’m discerning. They add nothing to your life. I guess you can argue well they entertain me, so they do add value well they might entertain you but it’s empty. It’s like eating a lollipop there’s nothing nutritious about it nothing. It’s instant gratification you’re happy for a moment and when that lollipop is gone, the candy is gone, so is that momentary happiness. I don’t want momentary happiness, I want joy and you know my stance on this the only way you can truly experience joy is with relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. Again off topic, me and my off topicness, but I think this is important.
Happiness versus Joy, what’s the difference? Happiness has a connection to the word happenstance. Kind of like saying it just happens, happiness just happens. Joy is a whole different thing Joy isn’t just me feeling giggly and smiley, joy is a way of living. Joy doesn’t mean I feel happy; joy is part of a walk it’s part of your journey. There’s moments that you’ll feel happy, but joy ends up being a state that your in. How do you explain it, I don’t know, how do explain love? Hard to explain, joy is very similar. It’s the weirdest thing you know be in prayer may be in the car, maybe walking. Praying to God and all of a sudden you sense, you feel, I call the vibe, you get this vibe and all of a sudden all the pressure is off of you. You don’t even understand it you know that you have, you know issues in life and stresses in life but something happens and something just kind of takes over. It’s peace that surpasses understanding as the Bible would say and part of that is joy. You get a funny look on your face a silly smirk maybe like the one that you’re getting now. That state is joy, peace that only comes from God. I encourage you to have those moments how do you get that? Again, you go to church, you get connected to God, you talk to God. Pray, how do you pray? Just like…just the way I’m talking to you, talk to God, you don’t have to be fanshie-mantie doesn’t have to be a big moment, just connect with God, just talk. Sometimes be quiet and just listen, sometimes you get a vibe, sometimes you get something. That’s how you get that state of joy.
Another difficulty will be in situations where you still have to deal with that person. How do you forgive? Even though you still have to deal with that person, forgiveness, it’s not me saying I like what you’re doing or I’m agreeing with what you’re doing. What I’m saying with forgiveness is I’m saying I’m going to put down this anger, this hurt, this resentment, this bitterness, but what I’m going to put up is a fence or what they would call boundaries, healthy boundaries. If a person hurts you and you still have to deal with them, you do your best to keep a healthy distance. That is if they’re not willing to face the issue. If you’re in a relationship and they’re not willing to understand unfortunately you will have to involve other people. Perhaps your pastor, a good friend, a therapist and so on. Let’s clarify this for those who can also easily forgive. This is no way, shape or form to say that you’ll live in abuse. It’s not okay, you don’t do that. It is not okay for you to live in abuse and again abuse is not just physical it can be verbal. If you are on a daily basis or a very constant basis being put down and we mean called names, you must distance yourself from that we’ve talked about that before. You distance yourself, you get healthy, you get good with God. In there somewhere you work on forgiveness, with a healthy boundary, a healthy fence that keeps those people out without harboring any of the negative feelings. So it’s a tricky situation every case is a little bit different because there’s no guarantee that if you forgive the other person is going to change. You know what that means? That means you’re not forgiving for their sake. You’re forgiving for yours, for your own benefit. Keep that in mind, I’m going to bring that up a little later because the benefit isn’t theirs, it’s yours. I mean, think of the logic here. You’re trading in negative feelings, anger, resentment, bitterness and everything else in between. You’re literally trading it in for peace, happiness, joy and the rest. You are trading negative for positive. That sounds like a great deal to me. So why do we hang on to it? Why bother holding on to it? Would you like to hear this message at your church or reach out to me? E-mail me.
Let’s look at a couple reasons why we don’t forgive. Sometimes we’re so angry that they’ve done a so wrong, that they need to pay for it, revenge. They need to feel what I felt. My friend, you’re probably going to hold on to, the feeling for the rest of your life, if that’s the type of thinking you’re going to have. You know why because they’re living their life and you’re still planning for them to experience your vengeance. Here’s my philosophy on revenge, you can actually give that up to God and his vengeance is at minimum a thousand times scarier than anything that you can do. I recall in the past in a situation where I wanted to get revenge, I wanted to just beat that person up. Something said don’t do it, said okay, didn’t like it. I waited over ten years, ten years later, this person I saw God get revenge on this person that scared even me because me beating that person up one time would have put that person in pain for a little while, but what God did, to a degree destroyed that person. I actually felt…starting to feel guilty because I was like, oh geez God I wasn’t planning on that, but it goes right back to the idea that God is the one who gets vengeance and his vengeance is scarier than anything you can do. Can you put down the need for revenge and just give it to God? Let him do it, let him do it in his own time. Remember, God is very strategic. I’ve said that before, he is very strategic. You just let him do it and watch what happens. Again, I don’t wish anything bad on anybody but God has a way of taking care of his kids, again, it isn’t the way maybe that we were thinking but he’ll get them. Some people just want to ignore it, I get that too, we want to ignore the issues, the problem rather than forgiving I’ll just ignore it like it never happened that’s burying. Burying is a huge issue burying is not what we’re talking about forgiveness, letting go is not burying, forgiveness letting go is facing it. When we ignore it, we’re burying it where we don’t want to look at it, that’s how you get unresolved baggage. Everybody has that we’ve all experienced that somehow, someway, some way, shape or form, but that will only feel like keyword feel. It’ll feel like it works just for a little while, so ignoring it will not do it.
Sometimes there’s a confusion of thinking that forgiveness will make you look weak. I have lost control and you don’t have control the situation anymore and if I don’t have control the situation then they will control me I will be manipulated again and hurt again. Well, then that isn’t proper forgiveness because as we said earlier forgiveness will sometimes come with fences, boundaries. If we do it correctly, they will never be allowed to hurt you again. That might mean there’s going to be a lot of sacrifices, are you willing to do it because you can everybody can remember in Jesus name everybody can. So on the contrary forgiveness truly is you gaining control. You gain strength in controlling your emotions, your actions your thoughts. This is what makes you spiritually stronger, not weaker and hint, hint like I hinted earlier God, I’m just going to say that and I’m going to explain that later. God and His forgiveness and let’s be honest, sometimes when we don’t forgive because forgiveness means we’re owning up to something. Once in a while, we don’t want to own up to it when we don’t own up to something, it allows for me to be able to still use excuses. Do you really want to live that way? A life full of excuses, I don’t think anybody does break that today. You can break it you may have to own up to a lot of things, but the changes are going to be worth it. You’ll be you. You’ll begin to find your own identity that’s priceless, so sometimes forgiveness is going to involve me letting go of excuse making or sometimes you know forgiveness seems unfair it’s not fair they should pay for it. They can’t go off the hook that’s too easy. Be aware of that feeling of vengeance and this isn’t about fair and unfair. This is about you regaining control of your life. For you to go back on track to where your identity is, to go to your destination where God wants you to go. Look, I understand what I’m saying isn’t easy, okay I… it’s easier said than done right? Again, no excuse. No excuse. For any of us to live mediocre. How do you live mediocre? If I don’t make X amount of money is it mediocre? Is it…I don’t travel, am I mediocre? Nope and nope. You live mediocre by not living your purpose. In Christ that is the point of all this. You could even expect the other person to realize and come to you first, you’re going to wait, you might wait forever and now you’ve given them the power. They have all the power now and here you are sitting and harboring all of these feelings and maybe getting physically ill. My friend stop waiting start doing start moving. In your process, in your healing process of letting go. Look all because they’re not, they don’t say I’m sorry doesn’t mean you stop your process. Do not, I repeat, do not let anybody on this earth stop you from growing in life and if you have, that’s okay dust yourself off get up and we try again because guess what we’re going to fall again. We’re going to fail, that’s life, but you get back up, you try again, keyword try. Remember the key to all of this is will you trust; will you have faith in God? That’s what all of this is all about, will you trust God more than anything else, will you love God as the Word says will you love Him with everything that is within you? With your heart, soul, mind, spirit everything that is the greatest commandment according to Jesus, you love God with everything that’s you.
Second greatest commandment, love your neighbor as you love yourself. It all works revolves around love. The love of God cannot fully flow through you unless you can deal with this part forgiveness letting go. The one thing God hates more than anything else is pride, you and I struggle with this daily. As Paul says in 1st Corinthians he dies daily, I’ve got to put that old man down. It wants to rule, it wants to take over, but you must die metaphorically speaking or spiritually speaking, you know. I must die, I must die daily to myself and look, it’s not convenient, forgiveness is not convenient, growth is not convenient, working out isn’t convenient. You don’t do it because it’s convenient, you do it because it’s right, that’s what this is all about you doing what is right according to God’s eyes, this is a healthy type of living. So no don’t don’t use that excuse of convenience, it’s never convenient, it’s never fun, it’s never easy to deal with issues. That’s why it’s an issue, so let’s get rid of all the excuses and deal with these things head-on. Look, my friend, I’ve done it you can do it so let’s go through this together next time we meet I’m going to go over the how aspect of forgiving so until next time God bless you.