“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” James 5:16 (ESV)
If you haven’t read Jake & Alex’s post, “Lets Take a Look Series #1: ‘Your Relationships’“, now would be the perfect time. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly, but ‘tis the season to be embittered toward your family, too. Know what I mean?
Jake & Alex gave a great commentary on relationships and the perfect method God has given us with which to heal brokenness in those relationships: forgiveness. I just wanted to quickly share a tool with you all that I believe will benefit you and your loved ones. My husband and I recently used this exercise in our marriage life group, and I think that it truly had an impact.
During our study, we did a break out session where each person coupled up with his or her spouse. Now we coupled up this way because it is a marriage group. However, this tool can work for any relationship. Trust me, if there are deep hurts between two people, this exercise will benefit both people greatly. It can take 5 minutes to heal past brokenness. Here is how it works:
- Set the timer for 5 minutes. This should be a quick exercise. You don’t want the task to seem daunting and time-consuming or you will be tempted to put it off instead of tackling the issues right away.
- Find a quiet place with the person you’ve hurt and who has hurt you.
- Tell them what specifically you are sorry for– no generalizations or justifications. Give them a straight up, no strings attached apology for something real (no cheating and saying “I’m sorry you feel that I…”).
- Ask their forgiveness. People need to hear that we desire to have their forgiveness, not just get something off our chest through apologizing. “Will you please forgive me?”
- This step is up to them. If they don’t forgive, it is between them and God. Move on; you’ve done what God has asked of you. If they do forgive, thank them.
- Now repeat the situation with your partner apologizing. Remember, you don’t get to choose what they apologize for in this exercise. (It doesn’t mean you cannot or should not ask them to apologize for specific hurts in other scenarios; however, in this particular exercise, it is about each person digging deep within themselves and their memories to find something for which they need to apologize.)
Being yesterday was Thanksgiving, when plenty of family gathers together and many times gets into disagreements, you might find this exercise a beneficial tool to use today. Remember, if you don’t feel that person you are thinking of deserves your apology or your forgiveness, remember that you don’t deserve forgiveness from your perfect, Heavenly Father, yet He sacrificed His Son so that you would freely receive forgiveness for every wrong thing you’ve done past, present, and future. If He, in His perfection, can grant you forgiveness, despite your imperfection, surely you can humble yourself enough to ask for forgiveness and muster up enough grace to give forgiveness.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 (ESV)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV)
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25 (ESV)
Forgiveness today means being thankful for healed relationships next Thanksgiving. That is truly a reason to be thankful.