What does it mean to actually forgive someone who has wronged us in some way? It seems like such a simple concept that we are taught even at a young age. When someone says ‘I’m sorry,’ we say ‘I forgive you.’ And as Christians we are often taught to grant forgiveness even if that ‘I’m sorry’ never comes. But what is forgiveness beyond the spoken words?
What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is releasing the ‘right’ you may feel to be angry and resentful, laying down all claims to retribution. It is relinquishing any guilt, punishment, or debt that someone may owe you.
Forgiveness seeks pardon, not punishment of the other person. Forgiveness carries the price of surrendering revenge, but the reward is worth it. God began by forgiving us, and He invites us to forgive others.
There are many misconceptions about what it means to forgive, as well as what it means about ourselves as the forgiver. These messages can come from social media, Hollywood, or even our own friends and family.
Ultimately as Christians, we can find clarity in the Scriptures to sort out “What is forgiveness, really?”
Common Myths About Forgiveness
The following are a few myths that the world tends to portray about forgiving.
Myth: Forgiveness is letting ...
The reasons and causes for a child to be prone to angry outbursts are too numerous to discuss in one article. Children are born with different innate dispositions, may be dealing with a disability that constantly frustrates them, or may be reacting to a dramatic change to their life. These are some examples of life factors that result in an angry child who is difficult to manage.
Having an approach specific to the particular cause is an important consideration when dealing with anger management for kids. However, we can find some universal parenting principles in the Bible that are necessary ingredients for helping children develop coping skills to function in the world.
In my 20 years in working with families, a common theme I have found with children and teenagers with anger problems is inconsistent parenting. A lot of permissive parents focus on being connected to their child, but shift to be controlling in a crisis. Conversely, authoritarian parents don’t know how to be positively connected to their kids when things are going well and provide little support toward autonomy.
Many parents shift back and forth between the two styles inconsistently, leaving the child without stable boundaries to figure things out. The result is that the child is constantly frustrated t...
Anger is an emotion that brings about mixed emotions for many people. Some feel an immense amount of shame and avoidance associated with their experience of anger. For others, anger is more of a familiar friend. There are two passages that I often refer to in my thoughts about anger and its application to emotional health.
You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. -- Matthew 5:21-22, NLT
‘Don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -- Ephesians 4:26-27
Does Your Anger Control You?
In the first passage, Jesus takes the Old Testament command about murder and fulfills it by saying that it is not enough to not commit murder. What really matters is the condi...
Part 2 of a 2-Part Series
In my previous article in this two-part series, I suggested that anger is like a fire alarm that alerts us to problems that we need to address and explore. However, people who struggle with anger issues also need to manage their anger. In this article, I show that how we think can have a big impact on anger management.
Changing How We Think of Anger
In his book Nonviolent Communication, Marshall Rosenberg argues that anger can be completely avoided. He advocates making the following changes in our thinking. Instead of thinking, “I am angry because they...” he recommends replacing it with the phrase, “I am angry because I am needing...”
If our spouse is late coming home for dinner, let’s consider two options we have in responding that are based on our needs. If we have made a wonderful dinner and it is getting cold, our need to see our effort appreciated may go unmet. Not having our needs met can be a trigger for anger. However, if we needed some solitude, and the lateness gave us time for that, we might be grateful. The behavior of our spouse did not change from the one scenario to the other. Rather, it was our needs that changed.
The Difference between Stimulus and Cause
The following dialog...
Part 1 of a 2-Part Series
Anger is an emotion and many of us have issues with anger. It is also like a fire alarm – it’s loud and warns us to look for a fire. Often we feel angry, but don’t really know why. We just know that we are angry. I get angry at injustice, when I am afraid, or when I feel powerless. Anger can be a signal that tells us we are hurt, or that we have compromised too much in a relationship. It can warn us of emotional danger, or it can be a defensive response to criticism.
Jesus’ Anger and Ours
Most of us view anger in a negative way – and we shut it off as soon as we can. However, the Bible instructs us to be angry and not to sin. Frankly, I’ve never been good at the not sinning part. Jesus got angry. He turned over the tables in the temple and he used a whip to make his point. I love the fact that he was passionate. However, his anger was different from most of ours – he did not sin. Moreover, our anger usually signals that something is wrong and needs our attention. His anger was a righteous response that was intended to right a wrong.
Anger is a Fire Alarm
Most of us need to treat anger like a fire alarm and start looking for the fire. That means asking ourselves what is behind our anger. What is s...
Left untreated, trauma destroys lives. Living with someone with PTSD can be extremely difficult. It can cause so much stress for family members that they may not be able to cope, and may eventually leave or divorce their partners. Fallout from this disorder is far-reaching and is devastating to all associated with it.
What Causes PTSD?
Post-traumatic stress can affect anyone, including those who have not experienced the horrors of battle. According to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD occurs after a “life-threatening event” that “creates intense fear, helplessness and horror.” Traumatic events include actual or threatened physical or sexual violence, kidnapping, natural or man-made disasters, and serious motor vehicle accidents, but they are not limited to these. For children, and those abused as children, inappropriate sexual experiences — even without violence — constitute traumatic events. In some cases, just learning about a violent event that affected a relative or close friend can be traumatic.
Those who grew up in abusive or neglectful households have experienced trauma over and over again. If a family member is repeatedly abusive, unavailable, or unable to connect emotionally, or if a child is repeatedly beaten and punished by one or b...
The Christian life can sometimes feel like a roller coaster ride in which hope and faith collide with unexpected reality. When our prayers are not answered as we desired, or our dreams become shattered, disappointment is the natural result. In my previous article, I explored some healthy ways of responding to disappointment and in this article I continue this discussion, with additional suggestions for dealing with disappointment.
We are Not Alone in Our Disappointment
If we consider some of the reasons why you and I get disappointed, we see that we are not alone. Job felt discouraged and was disappointed by his wife and friends. They didn’t understand him – they didn’t get it. In the middle of his suffering, they tried to be helpful yet ended up heaping more shame and blame on Job and his many afflictions. You and I can also be let down by friends and family. They don’t understand what we are experiencing or don’t offer the help and support we wish they would. Elijah became discouraged with life’s circumstances. H...