We had a one-day women’s retreat yesterday, which was really very lovely. And I got to spend lots of time with good friends, which is always nice.
The short time didn’t prevent the retreat from being a time of deep healing. The speaker was one of the ladies who has several degrees in counseling and psychology and such things. And she spoke on forgiveness.
The teaching part was good, though really not anything I hadn’t heard before. There’s only so much that can be said on the topic, as far as I can tell. What was fascinating was the exercises she had us complete. We had to write down five people who have hurt us and pick one and write a letter of apology from them to us – tell ourselves everything we wanted to hear them say. On the surface this seems like a terrible plan, since it just brings out the hurt and it feels like we are writing a litany of their wrongs. But it has the advantage of forcing us to admit that we were hurt, and that can be difficult. We tend to try to cover over the hurt or pretend it doesn’t exist, and then it can’t heal. (I suspect believers do this slightly more than average, but I’m sure all sorts of people do it in their own ways.) It certainly does bring the tears up.
After that bit (and pairing up to discuss as much or as little as we wanted) we wrote a second letter, explaining how the hurt has made us feel, how we’ve been reacting in the past, and what we are going to do to heal and move on. Again, lots of tears.
I think what I found most interesting was how much longer my second letter was. Apparently my hurt was mostly in my head – minor comments plugging into a morass of memories and guilty feelings and such junk. So apparently God needs to heal up that swamp. I’m sure He’s working on it.
At any rate, it was a very interesting tool to learn about. I’m not sure I’ll use it as much as some of the others I have for forgiveness, but it could be useful in some situations.
What about you? How do you forgive the big hurts?