Today we are sharing the second part of our interview with Sara Horn. Read the first part of her interview on Faithlife Women!
Sara Horn is the author of How Can I Possibly Forgive? Rescuing Your Heart from Resentment and Regret. Get it today!
In your ebook, How Can I Possibly Forgive?, you talk about your original desire to avoid conflict by focusing on success and less on the people you worked with. How have you worked to shift your focus? What inspired you to do so?
People are messy! Relationships can have drama!
I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel that way some days. For a long time, especially in my twenties, my way to avoid conflict or drama or the “messy” parts of life was to focus more on accomplishments than relationships. I mistakenly took it as a badge of honor when friends always started their phone calls to me with the words “I know you’re busy but . . . .”
If I was too busy to be bothered with relationships, than I would never have time to be bothered with fixing relationships.
But as I started really digging into what the Bible says, I realized that Jesus never put work ahead of people. His work included people. Messy ones, sinful ones, hurting ones. [Click to Tweet!] Learning this hasn’t happened overnight, but as I’ve slowly tried to view people the way Jesus does, starting with my family, I’ve moved from always putting work first to putting people first.
How would you define “big hurts” and bitterness?
Big hurts are painful disappointments, betrayals of trust, a realization that a friendship or a marriage or a relationship isn’t what you thought it was. We can experience deep wounds. We can also experience small cuts—someone repeatedly puts us down or breaks their promises or talks about us behind our backs— that, if received over and over, can feel the same as a deep wound.
Bitterness grows when our cuts refuse to heal and an infection of unforgiveness and resentment spreads.
What are ways we can free ourselves of bitter feelings?
I’ve found in my own life that to work free from bitterness, I have to first give myself permission that it will take time but it’s important to refuse to hold on to the hurt and let forgive. Expecting to work through forgiveness overnight isn’t realistic. Can God work in someone’s heart and completely wipe away hurt so she feels only peace? Yes, absolutely. But that doesn’t happen on our own.
Hurts often remind us of loss—so it’s important to focus on what we have. Adjusting our perspective to remember everything we’ve been given versus what’s been taken away can sometimes help us realize that we are more okay than our feelings might want us to think in the moment.
When we choose to forgive, we let go of something negative so it’s important we fill that space with something positive.
Often it’s easy to recognize what went wrong, but what are practical ways on how we can look forward recognize what needs to happen?
Forgiveness doesn’t happen by accident but with intention. [Click to Tweet!] That means you may not have planned for the hurt in your life to happen but you need to make a plan to let go of it and move on.
This starts with addressing how you’ve been hurt and what you can do about it. If someone else has hurt you, the most straight-forward way to move past it is to address it with the person guilty of the hurt. Write out what you want to say; practice saying it. Avoid making it personal towards the other person but keep it personal to you. Instead of saying “You were a horrible human being for doing what you did to me,” say “I was deeply hurt when you did what you did” and explain why you were hurt.
If the person who hurt you is unwilling or unable to talk or apologize, you still need to let go of the bitter feelings you hold onto. Focus on what you have learned from the conflict—are you stronger? Are you more understanding of others who have been in the same situation? Are you now able to offer encouragement to someone else who has gone through the same thing?
Saying sorry can be difficult, what are some milestones you have had to overcome in admitting you were in the wrong?
Well, first, I’ve had to be willing to admit I was wrong! That’s hard! We don’t like to think of ourselves as capable of doing wrong—it’s much easier to look at someone else and all of their flaws and mistakes.
Admitting that you’ve made a mistake—like the time I passive-aggressively unloaded on Facebook about a situation involving a nameless friend instead of going directly to her to deal with it—is a humbling experience but important for your relationships with friends and family as well as your relationship with God. Because we are going to do wrong things. When we refuse to apologize, even for our part in something we think is someone else’s fault, we’ll also find it difficult to truly forgive someone else when they apologize.
Often we are hardest on ourselves and our own mistakes. What are the best ways we can work towards self-forgiveness?
I think we have to remember that God gives us second chances when we acknowledge our wrongs, and we have to give ourselves second chances as well. As my mother likes to remind me often, I am my own worst critic. I can have three things go well but the fourth thing that I didn’t do as well, or messed up or disappointed myself or someone else will stay with me for days.
God didn’t create us to be perfect, He created us to be available. [Click to Tweet!] Recognize that with each failure, we can learn and grow. And then be intentional about it.
How can we overcome angry feelings with God’s love?
When life brings overwhelming disappointment—the death of a loved one, the death of a dream, the death of something we held dear—it’s tempting to point our finger at God and accuse him of no longer loving us, of no longer caring for us. But what we have to remember is that this life ISN’T about us.
Look to the two most important commandments that Jesus gives us: “. . .Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31.)
It takes faith to believe and trust God has our best in mind. But I can believe that and I can trust God with my life when I hold onto his truth like we find in Romans 8:28 —“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” We live to fit with God’s purpose, God does not exist to simply fulfill our own idea of purpose.
Tell God when you’re disappointed (it’s okay—he already knows anyway!). But instead of putting up angry walls, ask God to help give you clarity and understanding. Ask him to help you move on from the anger and frustration and disappointment you feel, and replace those feelings with joy.
Paul probably stated it best when he talked in Philippians about the contentment he knew in living for Christ instead of himself. “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content—whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
To learn more get Sara Horn’s How Can I Possibly Forgive? today!