I was recently offered the opportunity to be a regular contributor at the blog lifelettercafe.com. I am honored to be a part of their team. I wrote my first post for Life Letter Cafe today. Take a few moments to check out the site, and read the post, Writing Your Way Toward Forgiveness, on their Life Notes Blog I’ll be providing Life Letter Cafe more posts, a couple per month. I’m excited to be a part of their team.
The response to the first set of forgiveness quotes I posted in January was great. I’m going to make it a regular part of my site. Expect a handful of forgiveness quotes from time to time. Forgiveness is essential to living a healthy and happy life. We are never free until we forgive. Take some time to read the quotes and check out the links. As you read, consider the question: does forgiveness always mean we should forget?
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“Sincere forgiveness isn’t colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don’t worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time.” - Sara Paddison
“The stupid neither forgive or forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget.” - Thomas S. Szasz
“Never forget the three powerful resources you always have available to you: love, prayer, and forgiveness.” - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” - Henry Ward Beecher
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.” ….. - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” - Paul Boese
“To forgive is human, to forget divine.” - James Grand
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Some people would say to forgive is to forget. Others would say we would be foolish to forget.
Questions: Do you believe we should forgive and forget? Is it truly possible to forgive and forget? Wouldn’t forgetting leave us more vulnerable to being hurt again? Please post your answers below:
You might wonder what it was like for me growing up in a cult. To be honest it seemed somewhat normal at the time. I had my routine. I did what I was told. I worked, ate, and slept. I felt a bit out of place at school, because I was often the odd-boy-out and couldn’t participate in any extra-curricular activities, but otherwise I did okay.
It really wasn’t until after I escaped from the cult that I began to have some problems. I lacked social skills. I made poor choices. I struggled through my twenties and into my early thirties. I blamed my circumstances on my past. I blamed my parents. I blamed the cult leader. I was slowly falling into a trap. But I found the key to freedom: Forgiveness.
1. Forgiveness releases you. When you forgive your enemies, you are essentially releasing yourself from letting your anger and anxiety control you. When you continue to be angry and blame others for your circumstances, it gives you an excuse to continue to live in a way that does not move you froward. In interpersonal communication we call this an outward locus of control. You let your circumstances control you instead of you controlling them. Forgiveness is the first step to making positive change and gaining self-control.
2. Forgiveness forces you to take responsibility. Once you begin to forgive those who have harmed you, you begin to take on more responsibility for your own actions. You’ll have no one left to blame for your problems but yourself. It’s hard, but it forces you to change your way of thinking and your actions.
3. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. We’ve all heard the phrase forgive and forget. The problem is this: if we forget, we’re bound to let others hurt us again. Remember, but don’t dwell. Remembering those actions that have harmed us helps us to grow in wisdom. Dwelling creates resentment.
4. Forgiving is not accepting the wrong done against you. I was a child victim of a cult. I believe my parents made wrong choices. I believe the cult’s leaders mistreated me. They were wrong, but they are also human. Forgiving others does not release them from the their actions, but it does release you from holding onto the anger and hate you’ve stored up. Remember, what we store up on Earth, we’ll store up in Heaven.
5. Forgiving is not a one-time event. Forgiving those who have done major harm against us takes time. The process starts with a strong, intentional event in which the other does not have to be present, but you have to sincerely forgive them. You’ll likely continue on an emotional roller-coaster for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the severity of the actions done against you.
You Can Beat the Odds: But as you forgive, you begin to take more control of your own life, your own future. You begin to beat the odds that were set against you. Anger, strife, and resistance do not allow you to find the freedom you deserve. You have to let go of your past and move on. If you can forgive, you’ve taken the first step. You’ll find new strength and freedom as time passes. You’ll be willing and able to share your story and help others go through the forgiveness process. It all starts with YOU.
Questions: Have you made an effort to forgive those who have wronged you? How has forgiveness played a key role in your life? Please post you comments below:
Duncan MacLeod is a man of many interests and talents. He also happens to be a pastor. Duncan is the pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Yakima, Washington. Having too many interests to cover in one short interview, I narrowed our discussion down to four areas: blogging, photography, sermons, and most importantly, forgiveness. I’ll save kilts and banjos for another post.
Blogging: Duncan’s blog is unique. It’s called MacLeod’s Musings and he describes it as, “A place to chronicle the adventures of a poly hobbyist.” Topics include hands-on views of beekeeping, woodworking, pig harvesting, art projects, and more. The blog emphasizes urban farming and sustainable living.
Photography: Unlike many blogs, Duncan’s includes “99% original photography.” As one who chronicles his own adventures, he nearly always uses his own photos. He said a good photographer “actually looks through the lens, seeing what the camera frames.” He also said that chronicling his projects through the camera is one of the hardest parts of creating his blog. The blog is really worth checking out as his photographic documentation brings life to the details of his projects.
Writing Sermons: As a pastor, Duncan practices writing. ”A good sermon has one point, or is based off of one problem. There’s a center around which a good sermon orbits.” When writing sermons, Duncan turns to the classic methods found in Aristotle’s Poetics. He said, “A good sermon is different than public speaking because it’s not always designed to leave the listener feeling comfortable.” He thinks that using stories is important, but warns that “they can override the sermon. Sermons can get eclipsed by a number of positive or negative elements.”
One method Duncan uses in creating sermons is what he referred to as “the second read.” He said that he especially structures sermons around the “second read,” gleaning information that’s not always obvious during the initial read. ”Letting the scripture speak is the hardest part,” he added. I have the honor of sitting in Duncan’s congregation. From my view, Duncan is able to find fresh ways of relating the scripture to his congregation and daily living.
Forgiveness: As one of the core themes of my blog is forgiveness, I didn’t want to pass up a pastor’s perspective on the topic. When I asked Duncan for his personal definition of forgiveness, he pondered for a minute or two and said, “Forgiveness is relinquishing our right for judgment or justice against someone who has wronged us.” It’s important because “it’s the grease that makes the relational world go round.” He also pointed out that forgiveness does not negate a wrong and it does not always mean we should “forgive and forget.”
Duncan said that forgiveness is something we have to carry around everyday. We can choose to “continue without bonds of anxiety or anger.” If we don’t forgive, “the misery we live with day-to-day is because we allow those slights to fester.” He also noted that true forgiveness forces us to take responsibility for our own actions rather than blaming the offender. He used the child of an alcoholic parent as an example. The grown child can continue to blame the alcoholic parent for their problems, but forgiveness allows them to “take the blame away from the parent and take responsibility.”
Question: What is your personal definition of forgiveness?
Forgiveness is one of the single-most important actions you can take in life. We’ve all been treated poorly by others at one time or another. We’ve all been angry at others at times in our lives. But it’s not healthy.
Sometimes we hold onto that anger too long. Here’s the problem: It’s been scientifically proven that negative emotions such as anger, jealousy and hate, can lead to physical illnesses. This is just one reason to forgive those who have done you wrong. Today! Here’s more:
1. Forgiveness sets you free: When we hold onto anger and resentment, we are the only ones who suffer. When we forgive, we let go of all the past hurts and start fresh. I was a child victim of a cult. It took me years, but once I forgave my abusers, I discovered that I could soar beyond the past and into the wide-open future. You can break your chains and live free. You can find healing. Forgive!
2. Forgiveness doesn’t wait: We only have so much time on this earth. Those who have wronged us only have so much time, too. What if you’ve held a longterm grudge against your brother, sister, father, mother, or best friend? What if that person were to die tomorrow? What if you were to die tomorrow? Although we might be able to forgive someone after they’re gone, we can’t forgive anyone after we’re gone. Do it today!
3. Forgiveness gives you power: That’s right. Forgiveness is a powerful thing. Forgiving people are seen by others as strong individuals. It takes a person of solid character to forgive those who’ve caused them harm. And although the bigger the crime against you, the harder it is to forgive, you become even stronger when you take that step. Don’t wait!
Imagine being a pedestrian in a hit and run accident. I met a young man in Memphis who had suffered severe brain injuries and wound up homeless due to being hit by a car. They never found the driver. Amazingly, this young man didn’t have any hard feelings against the driver.
He said, “It doesn’t do me any good to be angry. God works everything out in the end. I’d only be hurting myself if I didn’t forgive the person that did this to me.”
He had already forgiven the person who caused him severe head injuries just months after the accident. That was a powerful lesson to me. I used this experience to develop a character in my book, A Train Called Forgiveness. The character had no money and no home, but was willing to carry a stranger’s bags to the train station for a few measly dollars. That stranger was me. And “the man with his head caved in” taught me a valuable lesson that night in Memphis.
Don’t forget! You can win a copy of my book just for commenting on the blog: Click here for details.
Questions: Do you have a forgiveness story? Can you provide an example of a time when forgiveness played a powerful role in your life? Can you think of others you need to forgive? Please post your comments below:
I’m taking the game to the next level.
I’ll be making more changes soon at danerickson.net. With the release for my second book, At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy, scheduled for March or April of 2013, I’d like to generate more traffic and more interest in daily posts. I want your comments and input. Here are some of the changes I hope to incorporate over the next few month as I build toward my book release. Let me know what you think?
1. More commentary pieces: Over the last week I’ve imported a few commentary pieces that I wrote months back on another site: postmodernpost.com. I’ve decided to shut that site down at the end of this year and add an occasional commentary on this site. Let me know what kinds of topics you’d like me to cover?
2. A-book-a-month giveaway: That’s right I’m going to start giving away my books. Top commenters will earn chances to win a copy of A Train Called Forgiveness or other future releases: Crossing, Book of Poems, etc. I’ll be providing more details and official contest rules early next week. Would you like a chance to win?
3. New and colorful photography: As a creative type I’ve stayed away from using stock photos. To date, nearly every photo on danerickson.net is my own. I hope to find some up-and-coming photographers and feature some of their work with my daily blog posts. I have a couple of leads, but even if they don’t come through, I’ll be moving toward using primarily original color photos.. I’ll be upgrading my camera soon. So expect to see new and more brilliant photos including some new headers and profile shots by early next year. Would you like your photography featured on danerickson.net? Contact me.
4. Static content changes: Although I’m leaning toward sticking with my current theme, I’ll be making a few changes to the static content such as pages and side bars. In the future I might very selectively start using advertisements: only products organizations, and services that I wholeheartedly believe in. Ads would be kept small, simple, and tasteful.
5. More guest posts: I’ve had guest posts in the past, but have currently taken a break. I hope to bring back some of my previous guests soon. I’ll also be looking for some new guests. If you’re interested in posting on danerickson.net please contact me to discuss the possibilities.
Finally… what do you want? What would you like to see on my blog? Keep in mind that my primary mission is still to promote writing, writing as therapy, music and other creative works. Are their topics within these limitations that you’d like me to elaborate upon? Do you want more poetry? Less poetry? More posts about music? More posts about professional writing? Blogging? It’s your chance to help create the future content of this site:
Please post your comments and ideas for danerickson.net below:
Rather than writing to impress or to advise, I say write your way to freedom. My first book A Train Called Forgiveness available at Ibis Books is a story about my own journey coming to terms with my abusive past as a child victim of a cult. Writing about your own past hurts and experiences can help you to forgive and overcome long held feelings of anger, hate, and resentment. Sharing your story with others can also lead others to forgiving their own past enemies.
My second book At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is scheduled to be published in early 2013. It continues the journey of forgiveness and studies the concept of justice versus mercy. Both of these books contain a message that helps us to consider love and non judgment over fear and revenge.
Let’s take this idea of writing your way to freedom a step further. Do you desire stronger relationships with others. With God? Would you like better health? A brighter financial future? You can reach these goals and one place to start is to write them down. Write down your own ideas and feelings about relationships. Include your failures as well as successes. That’s how we learn. Write down your feelings about God. Keep a dietary diary or create a business plan. It all starts with writing. You can use writing as healing therapy and as a future life map. You don’t have to be a great writer. You don’t have to get published. You don’t have to blog. You could use a journal, a spiral-bound or a computer. You can write songs, poetry, story, or nonfiction. Just write and you’ll discover a new sense of freedom.
Questions: When was the last time you took the time to write? What things could you write about as healing therapy? Please post your comments below.
At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy is my second book that’s in the works. I completed the first draft about two months ago and will be starting the rewrite next week. The book is written on the premise that cult leader Peter Smith faked his own death and is still alive. Andy Burden, the protagonist of A Train Called Forgiveness, and his brother Simon start investigating the validity of Peter Smith’s death. They find that many of the facts lack validity. Andy decides to set out on a journey to discover the truth. With some help from his brother, his daughter, his dog, and a black belt in karate, Andy gets to the bottom of the mystery.
A Train Called Forgiveness is a study in forgiveness, non judgment and religion. At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy will continue that study, and incorporate new themes such as divorce, mental illness, justice, and mercy. I hope to have the second book published by late 2012 or early 2013.
You’ve heard the old saying, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”
I’ve been thinking about my last post. The reason I hold doubts toward giveaways, is that from my experience, I’ve rarely gained any true value from freebies. If you give me a free ebook about how to succeed at one thing or another, but it only touches the surface, I will not gain the skills I need to succeed. But if you teach me something, a truly valuable skill that I can use, you have given me a gift.
One goal of danerickson.net is to inspire people to use the intentional act of writing as a therapeutic tool; especially in the area of forgiveness. I can’t offer you a free ebook on how to forgive. That’s a personal journey. I don’t want to give you something for free. I want to help you learn how to set yourself free; free from anger, free from hate, free from emotional pain. I had what many would consider a terrible experience as a child. I was the victim of a cult. I’ve turned that experience into a learning opportunity. I’ve gone from being a victim to being in command of my life, including my actions and emotions. It all started with the little seed of forgiveness, a concept I learned from the Bible. I’ve learned that through forgiveness you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I’ve learned that forgiveness… truly is free. There are no strings attached. But you must take action.
1. Purge: Get it out. Yell, scream, hit a pillow. It’s okay. Personally, I’ve found writing to be the most effective therapeutic method.
2. Let go: No matter what someone else has done to you, remaining angry won’t change it. Anger hurts you, not the other. Let it go. You’ll find peace and freedom.
3. Practice. It might sound funny, but forgiveness takes practice. In other words, it’s not a one-time event. It’s something you have to repeat regularly.
4. Forgive yourself: Often, when we hold resentment and anger toward another, we are actually angry with ourselves. Is there something in your own life that keeps you down? Be willing to forgive yourself for your own mistakes.
5. Be forgiven: Know that you are forgiven. If you have asked for forgiveness, you are heard. God hears you. He feels your hurt. He feels your pain. If you sincerely ask for his forgiveness. You are forgiven.
My goal isn’t to sell you anything. My goal is to spread the word about the power of forgiveness. I have written a book about my own struggle with anger and resentment. In a fictional format, the book follows Andy Burden, a 27-year-old man, as he deals with his own anger and resentment and comes to terms with his abusive childhood.
A Train Called Forgiveness is a book that would be helpful for anyone dealing with the pain of an abusive event in their life. It’s also an eye-opening read for anyone who wants to understand the inner-workings and detrimental effects of cults. A Train Called Forgiveness is available at Amazon and Ibis Books for $14.00.
Whether you buy the book or not, I hope you will choose the path of forgiveness. If you do, you’ll find freedom and peace.
You can access the page at: http://www.facebook.com/authordanerickson. The initial response to the page was good. More than 30 “likes” in the first 24 hours. That’s not bad for a book that only a handful of people have heard about. Since that first day, things have slowed down. From the A Train Called Forgiveness page, I post quotes about forgiveness, movie clips about forgiveness, and allow others to post their own feelings about forgiveness. But let’s face it; forgiveness isn’t sexy. It’s a hard sell. Why should someone like a page about forgiveness when there are pages about money, sex, music, and dozens of silly wall posts?
1. Forgiveness is an essential part of faith. If we claim to be followers of Christ and we don’t forgive others, we better review our faith. Without forgiveness none of us would be where we are today. We’ve been forgiven and it’s essential that we forgive others as an expression of our faith. Otherwise, we don’t practice what we preach, making ourselves hypocrites for the entire world to see.
2. Forgiveness can set you free. Forgiving others, especially those who you’ve held a long-term grudge or resentment toward, will set you free. Anger and hate are negative emotions. They’ll eat you up inside if you hold onto them. When you let go of your hate toward another, you free yourself of loads of old baggage. You are the one who benefits most by forgiving others.
3. Forgiveness is a great source for therapeutic writing. Write it down. A great way to start the process of forgiving our enemies is to write about it. It’s okay to start out writing about the hate you feel toward another. It’s okay to be angry. It’s part of the purging process. As you continue to write with the intentional purpose of forgiving the other, you’ll begin to feel the power of forgiveness. Your hate and anger will slowly turn into understanding and empathy. Try it for yourself.
So forgiveness may not be sexy, (unless it’s a steamy make-up-sex scene in Hollywood), but it has the power to change your life and move you forward. Contrary to a popular belief, to forgive does not always mean to forget. But we’ll save that topic for another post.