From Fantasy to Forgiveness

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Most of us do this. Maybe you did today. We finally get a little brain break in the shower and we use it to fantasize winning that argument. I’m not knocking this technique. Some arguments are best left for the shower! Shower arguing can be therapeutic in that it helps release those thoughts and feelings that could hurt a relationship and are better unsaid to the other person. But perhaps the shower argument fantasy is a good indicator that we need to work toward forgiving someone.

We throw that word around a lot, but what is forgiveness? I get asked this often. Webster defines forgiveness- to stop feeling anger toward, blaming, or requiring payment of. The Greek term, aphesis, used in the New Testament, translates “forgiveness” as “releasing from bondage”. Jesus set the ultimate example of forgiveness for us on the cross when He says, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 ESV)

While it is highly unlikely that you will end up dying for the injustices committed against you as Jesus did, the truth is, that person may really deserve the verbal lashing you can give them in the argument fantasy. As we are fantasizing winning that argument, we are holding that person captive for something they have done or said- allowing ourselves to be judge, jury, and executioner. But by doing so, are we really holding them captive, or are we the ones being held captive by what was done to us? Are they still holding on to the injustice they committed against you? Maybe, but holding it in your heart and mind doesn't change how they are feeling about it. Looking back to Jesus' example (in much more dire circumstances), I once heard someone pose this question- why are you holding them captive when God has set them free [or offers to set them free]? When we forgive someone, we are choosing to walk out of the captivity brought to us by the injustice committed against us and let the Lord deal with the person and situation according to His perfect judgement.

Keep in mind- forgiveness is a process. Many people believe that the negative feelings should go away immediately, but it might be necessary to forgive a person multiple times before being able to move forward. The important thing is that you engage the process, praying as often as necessary, “Lord, I do not feel like forgiving this person, but I would like to move on with life, so I place them and the situation in your hands to deal with it as you see fit.” Then release them. If you continue to struggle with letting go, ask God to help you and feel free to give me a call.