Forgiveness Workshop Transcript

Obie-HostIt is my great pleasure to introduce to you today Yvonne Ortega.She serves on the Board of Directors of Christians in Recovery and leads her own ministry which she will tell you about. Today she will be speaking on Forgiveness.

Every time Yvonne leads a workshop we are all greatly blessed by her insights. Let us open in prayer…..

Heavenly Father,
We pray for our workshop leader Yvonne today.Anoint her with the Holy Spirit. Give her Your words of wisdom to share with us —
words of healing. Open our ears, hearts and minds that we are teachable and also open to the Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus we all pray. Amen.

Yvonne will speak for several minutes and then we will have a question and answer period where you will be able to ask questions. Yvonne, you now have the floor!

Yvonne Thank you.
What does it mean “to forgive”?
It means to give up feeling angry or wanting to punish, to show mercy, to pardon.

Countless adults have told me they can’t forgive themselves. One woman had an abortion and said, “I’m a murderer. I can’t go back to church.”

An alcoholic lost his wife, his children, his job, his car, and his home. His children refused to have anything to do with him. He said, “It’s all my fault for drinking like I did.”

A married woman got drunk and had sex with a male acquaintance. She was beside herself with shame and guilt.

A man fell asleep at the wheel and hit a guardrail. His daughter was thrown from the van and died. He was overwhelmed with grief and beat himself up repeatedly for the loss of his daughter.

Although God forgave those people, they couldn’t forgive themselves. They knew what God’s Word, the Bible, says about God’s eternal unconditional love for us. They knew Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, but they still couldn’t forgive themselves.

Psalm 103:13 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”God is not a liar. He says what he means. As Jesus hung from the cross, he said, “It is finished.” He never said it is finished except for alcoholics, drug addicts, and others in recovery.

At one time or another, we all suffer from lack of self-forgiveness — addict or not. When that happens, we need to remember that God wants us to forgive ourselves.
He had his only Son leave his perfect home of heaven to show eternal, unconditional love for us.

On the other hand, Satan doesn’t want us to forgive ourselves. John 10:10 says the devil is “The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10 says the devil is “The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” He wants us to believe we don’t deserve forgiveness or restoration. He wants us to think we need to punish ourselves for what we’ve done.

If we bury ourselves in guilt and shame, the devil will delight in our pain and suffering. He will take advantage of us and exploit our past to leave us physically, emotionally and spiritually crippled. Ulcers, colitis, migraine headaches, high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and suicide can result from a lack of self-forgiveness.

Out of shame, we will not want to go to church. If we go, we will not use our gifts and talents to serve others. We will not experience God’s presence and power.
Out of shame we will isolate ourselves from family and friends. Since we don’t love ourselves enough to forgive ourselves, we will struggle to love and forgive others.

We will be imprisoned in regret and play the “sinful scenes” over and over in our minds.

Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles, betrayed Jesus for thirty silver coins. When he realized Jesus was condemned to death, Judas “was seized with remorse. He returned the silver coins to the chief priests and elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood’” (Matthew 27:3-4).

Matthew 27:5 tells us, “Then he went away and hanged himself.” Judas Iscariot was overcome with shame and guilt, but he didn’t repent and seek God’s forgiveness.

God loves us far more than we can imagine. When the apostle Peter denied Jesus three times, God didn’t stop loving him. Peter repented, and God forgave him. Peter fully accepted God’s forgiveness and went on to lead 3,000 people to the Lord on Pentecost. God used Peter mightily in the early church including allowing him to write two books of the Bible, 1 and 2 Peter.

Romans 8:29 says, “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”

King David in the Old Testament committed adultery and then murder to cover his adultery. He asked for forgiveness, received it and went on in faithful service to the Lord. In Acts 13:22 God refers to David as “a man after his own heart.”

When we sin, we experience true guilt. As soon as we ask for God’s forgiveness, we will receive it. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

Although we’ve been forgiven, we may still carry guilt or “pseudoguilt” as Freud called it. That false guilt is lack of self-forgiveness. It is not from God but from the devil.
We will find peace, joy, and fulfillment in our Christian lives when we accept God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves.

Let’s move on to forgiveness of others. As a licensed therapist, my experience with those in recovery is that lack of forgiveness becomes a stronghold in their lives.
They are in chains not only by their drug of choice but also by their lack of forgiveness. That lack of forgiveness keeps them chained to the one they refuse to forgive.
Some would say that I didn’t know what their mother, or father, or uncle, or spouse had done to them. True, I didn’t, but God did.

We would work through the pain of their abuse, but we always came back to forgiveness.

Healing without forgiveness is impossible. Romans 12:14 and 17 says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.”

In Ephesians 4:31-32, God tells us, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Notice in verse 31, God says get rid of all of it. Period.

Mark 11:25 says, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Do we want God’s forgiveness?

Do we want God to answer our prayers or will we allow lack of forgiveness to block them?

If we don’t forgive those who have hurt or traumatized us, it’s as if we drink slow poison and expect the other person to die (taken from Cheryl Prewitt Salem).
When Jesus taught us the perfect prayer in Matthew 6:12, part of the Lord’s Prayer says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” How much forgiveness do we want?

Forgiveness does not mean the person is off the hook. God says in Hebrews 10:30, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Forgiveness does not mean you forget what happened to you. If you forget, you may end up placing yourself in a dangerous situation with an abuser again. Forgiveness means you don’t dwell on it day and night and let it consume you.

Forgiveness is for us. Without forgiveness, we will never experience healing and freedom in Christ. Instead we will become bitter people who live in bondage and defeat.
Forgiveness is a process. It is like an onion with layers of forgiveness to be peeled away. As each memory surfaces, we’ll need to go through the forgiveness process again.

When I speak at retreats, I have a forgiveness ceremony with the attendees. At home, you can take strips of paper and write the name of each person you need to forgive on a separate strip of paper. Place the strips into a paper sack or an empty box. Tell God how you feel about each offense and the offender. Ask God to help you forgive them and turn them over to God. Choose to pray blessings over them. Remember your blessings will be in direct proportion to your forgiveness of others.
Who knows? Someone may have your name on a strip of paper. Spend time in praise & worship. You will know when you can toss each strip of paper into the trash or shred it.

When you release each person, you will be released too.

The recovery thought on CIR yesterday said, “Forgiveness does not change the past,? but it does enlarge the future.?” ~ Paul Boese {submitted by Rev. Nancy}.
Let’s start enlarging the future and living the abundant life Christ came to give us.

Obie-Host Thank you Yvonne!!!
The floor is now open for questions…..

Member #1 Can you begin to forgive even if u don’t know if u really want to or will be able to? wont be able to?

Yvonne Forgiveness is a choice
God wants us to obey. In the perfect prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The Bible tells us his strength takes over when we are weak his grace is sufficient.

Either God spoke the truth or he didn’t.

Forgiveness is not about emotions, it’s about the will — a choice — and obedience. God honors our puny efforts and helps us. Remember the footprints in the sand picture? He carried us when we couldn’t handle the situation.

Member #4 Yvonne, it there a difference between feelings of guilt and conviction?

Yvonne Guilt can be true guilt because we’ve sinned and need forgiveness from God. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin including lack of forgiveness of self and others. False guilt is the devil’s playground.

Member #4 So…once I’ve done my part, confessed, AND repented… the guilt should not be right?

Yvonne It’s over. It is a clean slate. Jesus paid the price. He doesn’t need us to help him. He doesn’t want us to beat up ourselves over and over.

Member #4 TY… sometimes that whole concept can be fuzzy for me 🙂 done 🙂

Yvonne Forgiveness is a tough topic.

Member #3 I’ve said outwardly to people that I forgave my older sister, who sexually abused me when I was really young, but I don’t feel true “peace”;
even though I’ve tried to pray to Jesus, about this. It helps; but she still clouds my thoughts and I cant keep those thoughts away from me.

I ‘ve also met her since she abused me, and she hates me for whatever reason. How can I be “free” of these feelings and also of her as well?

Yvonne Sexual abuse is traumatic and leaves lasting scars, especially when it is at the hands of a family member. It will be important for you to work through the entire episodes with a counselor experienced in sexual abuse.

You can’t deny the abuse happened. You can also work with someone trained in the steps to Freedom in Christ. Go over how it made you feel and the effects on your life.
Your sister probably hates herself seeing you is a shameful reminder of what she did to you. There is no shortcut to recovery from sexual abuse. Your feelings are just that, feelings. Your freedom will be a choice you work for because you are worth it. God loves you and wants you well.

Member #2 I have been going through a difficult situation with a neighbor. She slams the doors so hard it literally shakes the building which is triggering me (or what ever it is) and I have tried to talk with her and we made up at one time. But its an ongoing thing. How does one forgive with an ongoing situation this is consuming my life? and i wish to work past it, or, if it be GODS will move.

Yvonne Talk to the landlord if it’s an apartment building. Consider moving. You may have a neighbor who appears to be mad at the world but probably is mad at herself and hates herself.

Jesus talked about the 70×7. He knew we would face situations like yours. Every day will be a choice to forgive again and again. Scripture says to go to the person
if that doesn’t work go back with 2 or 3 brothers/sisters in the Lord. Since she’s not in your church your choice may be to move ONLY if God makes it clear you are to do so.

Meanwhile pray and fast but always in a spirit of forgiveness.

Member #7 It really hit home for me when you emphasized the importance of repentance in forgiveness. Can you talk a little more about that aspect?

Yvonne If we arent’ sorry for our sins, we may just be sorry we got caught and don’t have any intention of changing. Repentance makes it possible to turn away from sin. When the apostle Paul repented of persecuting and murdering Christians he turned his life around.

Some people say they are sorry but they don’t repent. They keep doing the same thing over and over again. They make a mockery of asking for forgiveness when they know they’re going to turn around and do the same thing again. They have no intention of changing.

Member #5 I know that God forgives me …….and has put them in the depths of the sea. Is it human nature to go poking around to get them back ?
What makes us do that if we really believe?

Yvonne Satan is the accuser of the brothers/sisters. He wants us to wallow in self-pity. He doesn’t want us to live a life of peace and freedom in Christ.

Obie-Host Let us close in prayer……Dear Father….
Teach us to forgive and to forgive completely…..
Jesus said, “It is finished.”……
Help us to fully understand the meaning of his words…..
Bless Yvonne and her own ministry…..
give her the strength and wisdom to lead it forward…..
Bless everyone who is a part of CIR…..
in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.