| Peter Cook
Largest Heart is a non-profit organization, and our passion is to make a difference in people’s lives. Over the years, we've written many blogs on different topics, but we want to return to this one this week because it is so important.
To ‘repent’ means to feel sincere regret about what you’ve done wrong in your life. It is to be ‘ashamed’ of your sin. (Even the word 'penitentiary' was derived from 'repent,' suggesting that criminals sent to jail should be sorry about their wrongdoings.)
This is an essential topic when we talk about addiction. We all want the addict to review his actions, to feel regret, and start to change for the better and not repeat what he has been doing.
As Christians, we define ‘repentance’ as turning away from the self-serving things and turning to God. True repentance, therefore, is liked with believing. Conversely, it is only possible through the Holy Spirit who wants to revive you to a new life where your spiritual life stands central.
In one Texas study, researchers looked at the statements that offenders made just before their execution. If homicide survivors (the family and friends of the victim) were in the viewing chamber, offenders often stated how sorry they were.
We don’t know why, but we could speculate that perhaps they want a type of restorative justice. If they said they were sorry, there now rests a ‘moral’ obligation on the viewers not to punish, but rather to ‘reward,’ although the ‘reward’ might only be that the offender feels better. There is no reconciliation between the parties as a new ‘relationship in trust’ cannot be established. ‘Forgiveness’ in a legal setting is therefore not truly appropriate.
Where are we going with this?
We all feel deep down that criminals must be punished for the bad things they did.
Are we thinking the same way about our loved one, the addict?
In contrast, God's justice is restorative. We all sinned against God, but what does He do? He loves us more. He does not need punishment to lead us to Him.
This argument goes both ways:
- The addict needs to let go of his need for ‘legal repentance.’
‘I am sorry (but not really, because I might do it again.’) His need springs out of the need for a ‘reward,’ a type of ‘feeling better,’ but there is no real intention of restoration of relationships. The addict must make a total mind shift if he wants to heal.
- As family and friends on the sideline, we need to let go of our need for punishment.Yes, our emotional hurt runs deep, and we need God’s restorative justice. We need to love more.
But it still hurts
Yes, we know. Apologizing and repentance do not necessarily remove the hurt. However, it is a start. Psychologically, apologizing (at both sides of the relationship!) helps people to become less retaliatory and more forgiving.
Someone once said to forgive is to set a prisoner free, only to discover that the prisoner was you.
Bonus Section from our CEO
If you’ve made it here, then here’s some gold nugget advice that I had to learn the very the hard and painful way. Hopefully, these wisdom nuggets can save you the hurt, pain, suffering that I had to suffer through. I realized in the end if I had chosen, I could have forgiven and had peace. Instead, I choose to be angry, choose to let pain dominate my thoughts, choose to hate, choose to live in misery, these were my thoughts that I choose to turn into actions. Actions that sucked. Pain can be something we can’t choose or control – it is what it is. BUT misery and choosing to wallow in it is a choice. I have learned that my thoughts are mine and I can control them for good (positive) or bad (negative). Hindsight is always 20/20!
- Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. I learned this from a book a friend gave me following a bad break-up. In Alan Cohen’s book ‘Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It’, the author discusses the subject of forgiveness. He calls not forgiving the pain we carry, a bag of poop. Yes, you read that correct, he calls it a bag of poop and that the longer we carry it, the heavier it gets. AND ITS STILL A BAG OF POOP. I was given this book following a failed engagement (painful break-up) and had a hard time letting go and forgiving this person. The problem was that each day I carried this hurt the pain got heavier and worse and it was still a bag of poop! I needed to forgive them to be able to move on and when I was able to accomplish this (yes, it takes work!) I was freed of this “poop” and was able to live happy again. It was such a freeing experience. - - - This bring me to the technique, I again painfully learned following an assault that has left me permanently disabled. I credit this tool with saving my life, as the “poop” that was building was getting very heavy and burdensome. - - -
- The live saving technique (TOOL) that I was taught I call the Trifecta Prayer. It’s very simple and far and away the BEST and MOST helpful thing I’ve been able to do to acquire happiness, joy and peace and has allowed me to let go of the “poop”, which for me was anger, depression, helplessness, frustration and pain. First, find yourself a quiet place where you are all alone (you can be with others but when first doing it I recommend alone). You say out loud the person/place/thing that you forgive. Then, you say I forgive yourself (use your name and say it out loud), then you forgive the situation. There are 3 parts to the prayer and its each part of the prayer in conjunction with the others that this works magic. You forgive them which free’s you. You forgive yourself for your role and letting go. This can be the hardest part as I know I am the hardest of myself and often my anger from the situations comes from me putting myself in the position to be hurt. Its this deep anger I have at myself which I found to be most corrosive and most needed of forgiveness and healing. I must remember to love myself. Third, I need to forgive the situation that landed me in this spot. If this did not happen, I wouldn’t be using this tool so I must forgive the situation as some situations just suck no matter what and we must forgive them for sucking.
Example of my prayer is as follows: “I forgive you Mr X. I forgive you Peter. I forgive the situation”. I will say this as many times as needed (sometime 15-20 times in a row or more if necessary) before I am feeling a little serenity. Practice this technique over and over and over until all that “poop” is gone. This has been a magical formula that I have discovered to allow myself healing following such hurtful and traumatic events. You live once so why not make it the most freeing and enjoyable experience. Remember that for every minute you are angry you just lost 60 seconds of happiness!