The Power of Unforgiveness

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

College towns are hard to get around just on foot because of the distance between classes and dorms, so as a college student, I took up bike riding.  One day while riding in the street, granted I was riding in the opposite direction of traffic which is strangely prophetic of my college years, my wheel got caught in an old railroad track causing my bike to twist and overturn.  As my head was falling to the ground, I looked up to see a car headed straight for me.  Suddenly, my life literally flashed before my eyes with all of its highs and lows.  Thankfully the car stopped just before it reached my head and I suffered only a sprained ankle and a fractured arm.

Take a moment and imagine the highs and lows of your life right now, what images or people would pop into your head?  More than likely there are high moments with people and places of great excitement, joy, and love.  More than likely there are also low moments that are still causing you some residual anxiety, stress or anger.  One of the reasons those low moments leave residual emotional scars is because of unforgiveness.  Unforgiveness of past events or people can be powerful and destructive even to your current relationships.

Quick to anger.  if you find yourself quick to get angry over little issues, taking too many things personally,  or to blowing things out of proportion to their significance, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Anger is a powerful emotion that often has its roots in past rather than current events.  Our unresolved past events especially those events that were traumatic in nature creep into our current anger outbursts.

Biting sarcasm.  If you find yourself using biting sarcasm which is sarcasm that takes a dig at another person and find them not laughing or nervously laughing, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Biting sarcasm is anger’s close cousin and it is an effort to mask true feelings of anger and resentment.  Perhaps quicker than an angry outburst, biting sarcasm can destroy a relationship because it is a back-handed attack.

Malicious gossip.  If you find yourself needing to talk to several people about the same issue or person over and over to get just one more perspective, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Gossip is talking about someone behind their back.  Some even go to the lengths to justify their gossip by saying they were just trying to inform or protect someone else.  This is still gossip and your present relationships go on guard each time you talk about someone else behind their back.

Dreaming of revenge.  If you find yourself daydreaming of getting back at someone or seeking out ways to outdo someone else to prove you are better, more than likely you are harboring unforgiveness.  Revenge comes in many forms and it does not always have to be physically harmful to another person.  Just wanting a person to get what they deserve, lose a relationship, have financial hardships, or feel pain is vengeful thinking.  Your present relationships will then be in fear of retribution rather than feel your love.

Unforgiveness is powerful in that it gives you the false sense that you are in control.  By harboring the negative feelings, a person can feel like they are in charge.  But sadly, the person or event that caused the unforgiveness is really in control and in charge as you are merely reacting to the person or event.  Take charge of your own life and don’t allow someone else or something else to control what you are doing or how you are reacting.  Better yet, turn your life and your unforgiveness over to God and allow Him to take care of the person or situation.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.

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Forgive, Forgive, and when you don’t know what else to do Forgive again

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

I would be out of a job if husbands forgave wives, wives forgave husbands, children forgave their parents, siblings forgave one another, friends forgave each other, workers forgave their bosses and nations forgave nations.  Imagine for a moment a child forgiving a parent who verbally belittled them instead of harboring that resentment well into adulthood and either repeating that pattern with their own children or worse internalizing the thoughtless comment.  Imagine a worker forgiving their boss for taking undeserved credit for a job well done instead of finding ways to even the score.  “Impossible” you say?

Signs of unforgiveness are everywhere in our culture.  Just turn on a talk show any day of the week and you will hear story after story of one person who believes they are justified in their anger.  And sadly, sometimes they are justified but there is a better way.  If we can identify the early warning signs of unforgiveness in our own lives and learn to forgive others before they ask or even if they never ask for forgiveness, then our own lives will be blessed.

Angry Outbursts.  Have you ever been around someone who just blew up over what seems like nothing and you are left wondering what just happened?  Their outburst may be a sign of unforgiveness in their own life; something you might have said or something you might have done may have triggered a memory completely unrelated to the event itself and their outburst has more to do with the past then the present.  But here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their outburst even if you don’t fully understand who, what, where, why, and how.  Otherwise, you are likely to fall into the next category.

Cold Shoulder.  Have you ever gotten the cold shoulder from a friend and you don’t know what is happening?  Or better yet, someone pretends not to know you when you know perfectly well that they do know you.  The cold shoulder routine may be another sign of unforgiveness in their life as they would rather stuff the issue than address it openly.  This is a favorite tactic of most married couples as one spouse ignores or minimizes communication with the other.  The one doing the ignoring is the one who is harboring unforgiveness.  But here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their cold shoulder routine even if you don’t fully understand who, what, where, why, and how.  Otherwise, you will be as guilty as them.

Gossip.  Have you ever been around someone who says they are just trying to inform or warn you of someone else?  Or perhaps, they are more spiritual in their tactic by saying they are just trying to find out how to specifically pray for someone else.  Any way you look at it, this is gossip and unforgiveness is at the root.  The person gossiping is actually distracting themselves and others away from their own issues in an attempt to look better.  This is the worst type of unforgiveness as it is internal, revealing they have not forgiven themselves for an offense.  So here’s the kicker…you need to forgive their gossip to show them that they are worthy of forgiveness and perhaps help them to learn how to forgive themselves.

As I am writing this article, my own lack of forgiveness for others becomes all too glaringly obvious.  The best way I know how to forgive is to pray and turn it over to God.  Sometimes I write it down and then destroy the paper as a demonstration of my forgiveness but mostly I just pray.  Having received forgiveness for my own faults as a believer in Jesus Christ, I welcome the opportunity to show forgiveness to others, even if they never ask.

Repairing, restoring, and rebuilding relationships takes time, energy and effort.  If you find yourself needing more help during this process, please call our offices at 407-647-7005 to schedule an appointment.  Or you can send me a quick email at chammond@lifeworksgroup.org.