How to forgive intentionally whilst you are still grieving




My previous post from Friday was met with so much openness as friends and leaders began to discuss the type of grief they have been experiencing. Whether we are processing racial injustice, pregnancy loss, leadership pain, relationship betrayal, pandemic isolation or a crisis of faith, we have come to understand so much of what the earth is doing is grieving.


The tools that connect our body, our minds, and our emotions, when used on a regular basis, really do allow us to notice things we have been carrying. And it has been ALOT!


This morning I had the honour of recording a podcast with a friend in the wellness industry based in Thailand. We talked through all things pregnancy loss, pain and grief.


My husband and I have also been talking about the collective grief the world is experiencing and the personal grief we often have to process as leaders.


In my business as a LIfe Coach, and my role as a leader and pastor, we work with so many people who have not been taught how to grieve well. One of the first things that I say to my clients is that your early experiences of loss will shape every other experience after that. The way you are given permission to grieve then, forms how you will grieve now.


Then you begin to move into work on forgiveness and your theology in practice often shapes how you will know to forgive also. We move from loss into acknowledgment of the grief and the forgiveness required, then often the redefining of relationships based on properly now processing that deeper grief.


I know so many people doing great work on themselves in this season. My work and passions connect me globally with so many of these courageous humans. This current reality has brought up both collective grief, generational loss, personal trauma and surfaced pain that has been hidden for years.


Often one of the most pressing questions that comes up as people have to deal with their past or acknowledged that it is now impacting their present is What Is Forgiveness? And How Do I Forgive?


One of the most current writers on forgiveness is Fred Luskin and he teaches that the essence of all unforgiveness is: I didn’t get something I wanted. I got “no.” I wanted my partner to be faithful; they weren’t faithful. I got “no.” I wanted somebody to tell the truth; they told a lie. I got “no.” I wanted to be loved as a child; I wasn‘t loved in a way that I felt good about. I got “no.”


It’s so important to be able to understand the universal experience of this—of objecting to the way life is and trying to substitute the way you want it to be, then getting upset when your substitution doesn’t take.


The essence of forgiveness is being resilient when things don’t go the way you want—to be at peace with “no,” be at peace with what is, be at peace with the vulnerability inherent in human life. Then you have to move forward and live your life without prejudice.


It’s the absence of prejudice that informs forgiveness. You realize that nobody owes you, that you don’t have to take the hurt you suffered and pay it forward to someone else.


You don’t just accept it because life sucks and there’s nothing you can do about it—though that may be true—but you accept it in a way that leaves you willing to give the next moment a chance.


I believe this fully and Fred gives this great language. My observation is that Relational Resilience builds within you when you can move forward acknowledging the pain, betrayal, loss and grieving it well then through that grief accepting the part you play in releasing forgiveness.


Before you can forgive, you have to grieve. I have known this to be personally true and I am seeing it outwork itself in the work that I do.


Fred Luskin says

‘At the most basic level, forgiveness is on a continuum with grief. The way I understand it now is that when you’re offended or hurt or violated, the natural response is to grieve. All of those problems can be seen as a loss—whether we lose affection or a human being or a dream—and when we lose something, human beings have a natural reintegration process, which we call grief. Then forgiveness is the resolution of grief.


But the challenges we have with grief are twofold: Some people never grieve, and some people grieve for too long.


A deep human being feels pain and allows oneself to suffer because that’s part of the human experience. Without acknowledging that you’ve been wounded and you’ve lost something, you don’t gain the benefit of the experience—of acknowledging that you’ve been hurt and mistreated, but also of healing. And so there is a power that comes from the experience. 

But a deep human being also lets go of their suffering—he or she doesn’t maintain it forever, doesn’t create his or her personality around it, doesn’t use it as a weapon. You don’t cling to the negative part of the experience so that you can have something to hold accountable for your failures.


There is a tension to manage here, and it is often a tension to steward daily. How do we feel and then release?


Friend, I think this may be what Jesus was talking about when He asked us to practice forgiving seventy times seven!


In my next post I will share the three steps of grief that need to be acknowledged that Fred Luskin identified which are essential before someone can start to forgive.


We are on this journey with you



xxx









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