Moments of Mercy: Practicing Forgiveness

Practicing mercy with those closest to us is a daily challenge but Christ desires that we forgive hurts and allow the Holy Spirit to heal and bring new life. It might be helpful to keep in mind a few of these “Forgiveness Fundamentals” found on the USCCB’s “For Your Marriage” website.

Forgiveness is a decision and a process. It is not a feeling; we need to decide to forgive. It is also a process because we have a right to work through the hurt. The very first place to start is prayer: ask God for the grace to decide to forgive as you process the hurts with somebody you trust.

Forgiving does not excuse the hurt that was done. It is a decision to let go of retribution and to allow God to begin to heal. God will turn our hurts into good when we give them over to God. But if we hold onto our hurts too much, God respects our free will and may not be able to transform them into the new life God wants for us.

As a member of the Body of Christ, you have dominion over your anger and your hurt. You own it and you can use it for the good; it doesn’t own you. You have a right to your justified anger but you do not have a right to take that anger out on yourself or others.

Only God is fully capable of “forgive and forget,” and even God forgives and redeems (brings good from it). When it comes to understanding forgiveness, it is good to understand how God made us. Because women and men differ in how details are biologically stored in memory, forgive and forget doesn’t work.

Learn to forgive yourself. After you ask forgiveness from God and the person you offended, it can be very freeing to put your hand on your heart and tell yourself: “I forgive you.” If you do this, use your first name and listen to your words of comfort.

The grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a powerful way to open up our souls to the Holy Spirit’s refreshing life.

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