Breakthrough Online Sample Topic | Healing & Forgiveness
This topic addresses the importance and power of forgiveness not only to the health of the relationship but more significantly to the individual carrying the pain of an emotional injury. We also explore what forgiveness really is and what it does, particularly for the person who gives it.
Thinking about your last argument or negative interaction that wounded you…
Write about your injury:
- What happened?
- How you felt then…
- How you feel now…
- How it impacts you (your self-esteem, your confidence, your relationships, your energy levels, your outlook on life, etc)
Watch the film. (approx 8 mins) Instructions are at the end.
Step 1: Pray
Pause for a moment and ask God to guide you in this activity.
Step 2: Forgiveness Dialogue
On a lined page, draw a vertical line to make 2 columns, 1/3 and 2/3 in width.
- In the left column, write ‘I forgive you’ and your spouse’s name (or the name of the person who hurt you).
- In the right column opposite it, write whatever objection comes into your mind.
- Do this again and again, each time writing down whatever comes into your head in a stream of consciousness.
- Don’t make any judgements about your ‘objections’. Just write them down as they enter your mind without editing. No one will see this except you and God.
- Keep going until you run out of objections. Take as many pages as you need.
- It’s important to write “I forgive you [name]” each time so that each objection is paired to a positive statement to your will to forgive.
- When you can write “I forgive you (name)” and there is no objection arising in you, write it a few more times. Say it aloud.
- If no more objections are forthcoming, and you can feel a shift in your heart towards forgiveness, move on to the next step.
- If you are stuck in resentment and are not progressing, set the exercise aside for a while and come back to it again, saying the prayer and doing the forgiveness dialogue. It doesn’t matter if the same objections arise – just write them down.
Step 3: Pray
Write a spontaneous prayer, expressing what is in your heart:
- Thank the Father for being present with you and loving you.
- Confirm your willingness to forgive in obedience to him.
- Ask forgiveness for any harm you may have done due to your resentment and hardness of heart.
- Ask God to deepen your compassion for the offender.
- Plead on behalf of the offender for his/her forgiveness.
- Ask God to heal you and remove any remaining residue of brokenness from your injury.
- Ask God to guide you as you make decisions about your next steps regarding the situation.
- Express your love and devotion to God.
Forgiveness is a powerful and important step in the healing process. Sometimes forgiveness alone is enough to accomplish full healing and restoration but for most, and especially for very significant wounds, full healing will require continued prayer and sometimes professional intervention.
Undertake some concrete action to ritualise and consolidate what you have accomplished so far.
- You may like to burn or shred your forgiveness dialogue in a symbolic gesture of turning away from your history of resentment.
- If you are Catholic, going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation is very powerful at this point. If you are not Catholic, you can still visit a priest: just explain that you are not Catholic and that you desire a blessing.
- It may be appropriate to write or speak to the offender. In the case of serious offenses (eg sexual abuse etc), please do not undertake this without professional support.
- If the offender is no longer alive, you may find visiting the grave or former home a helpful gesture.
- It can also be a good idea to do some gesture of sacrifice in recognition of our own need for mercy, and to pray for the offender’s need for mercy. Fasting and offering rosaries are traditional Catholic expressions for penance but there are many others.