Happy Easter to everyone. What joy the resurrection of Jesus brings into our lives. Am happy to have a guest writer this morning. Ladies and gentlemen, please Dr. Ronn Elmore.
The Question Is…
by Ronn Elmore, Psy.d
After more than twenty years of dispensing life advice on love and life, I’ve discovered a couple of questions that, without fail, come up over and over again. Maybe you’ve wondered about one (or both) of them as well. If so, I’d like to weigh in on them here…
Q: I have a hard time getting over it when someone betrays our friendship. They’ll even admit their wrongdoings and beg for forgiveness, but they eventually end up doing the same things again. Is there a point at which I’ve used up all my forgiveness and just don’t have anymore to give? —K.L.
A: Arguments over the rightness of forgiving somebody for doing you wrong often focus on what you, the wronged, will get out of it; “Forgive them, so they’ll feel bad and not do it to you again.” “Forgive them, so you can be proud of your great compassion.” “Forgive them, so you won’t suffer from resentment and acid stomach.”
Though these claims may be true, they shouldn’t be your primary reasons for forgiving someone who’s wronged you. They’re only secondary at best. Forgiveness is not just medicine to make the victim’s resentment subside. It’s a powerful gift of sacrificial, unconditional love, freely offered to somebody, who is guilty as sin.
Though human beings like to take credit for coming up with a lot of impressive ideas, forgiveness is not one of them. It’s something that came straight from God. If it’s His invention, He alone dictates how much of it you give—and for how long. Though we prefer it to be a short-term, temporary assignment, He favors the permanent, full-time kind.
When Jesus was asked how often we must forgive, He answered, “Until 70 times seven.” The implication is clear; forgiveness is over and over again—forever.
We all know people who fail us, and keep doing so. Forgiving them doesn’t mean you’re supposed to deny the facts, pretending they didn’t happen or don’t matter. It sees the failure for what it is but refuses to hold people emotionally hostage until they’ve paid for it.
Real forgiveness occurs when you have chosen to forgive, versus having a positive feeling. Feeling forgiving is usually slower than choosing to forgive. Don’t rush the feelings. Let your will to forgive lead. Your feelings may have to catch up later.
Q: I think of prayer as a private experience between an individual and God. I pray all the time, but alone. Lately, my fiancée has been asking to pray together out loud! I’m not sure I want to. Is it really important for us to pray together? —H.P.
A: Lately, it seems as if prayer is on everyone’s mind. We say we believe in prayer, and many of us pray faithfully and consistently but, sadly, not with each other.
We live our lives as such a break-neck pace that prayer has become a “luxury” that we have precious little time to indulge in.
Make time to pray with the people you love. Work at it until it’s natural. There is nothing you can do with your mate, your children, or your closest companion that builds a stronger, closer bond than praying. We tend to talk to God about the things we feel are the most important. When we pray with our loved ones, we get to hear and show our heart’s most profound yearnings. If your mate and your relationship matter to you, why wouldn’t they matter to God? He not only invites us to make our request known to Him, He commands it in Philippians 4:6.
Together with your partner, establish a regular time of conversation with God. Brief and simple prayers will work just fine to start. Be patient with each other but stay committed to making prayer with and for each other a consistent part of your life. For, where the two of you are gathered together in His name, God promises to be there. That’s three-way calling at its very best.