Let go

Stone in handAs I walked in the door, the ushers passed out small stones to each of us.  I grabbed one and sat down in my usual spot.

The message spoken that morning was based on the Gospel of John, Chapter 8.  In this account, the religious leaders in ancient Jerusalem had brought to Jesus a women presumably caught in the act of adultery.  They demanded his verdict.  Their intent was not to seek religious justice, but to trap Jesus and discredit him.

Jesus stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  – John 8:7

One by one, the men dropped their stones and walked away until only Jesus and the woman remained.

The pastor directed each of us to hold our stones throughout the sermon.  At the end, he asked us to consider what we were holding on to in our lives.

Who hurt you and you remain unforgiving?  Would we let it go or hold on to the bitterness, the anger? 

While praying, he asked us to drop the stone and to let go of the past and forgive.  I could hear the thump of each stone hitting the floor throughout the room.

After a few moments, the little girl sitting next to me whispered:

“Are you going to drop your stone?”

I hadn’t realized that I still held on.  I lingered and didn’t let it go.  The pain was real.  I carried my hurt, the painful past.  After more prayer, I slowly released the stone from my grip.  I didn’t want to let it go, but I had to.

I’d love to write that I was suddenly released from this great weight in my life and that everything was miraculously hunky-dory after this event.  It was not.  Forgiveness is not a one time event, but rather a daily process of letting go and allowing God to change the person inside.

That Sunday morning, I needed to let go of the stone, even though there is some gratification to hold on to the pain, the anger, the fear.  However the past is gone; it can not be restored or recovered, only replayed in my mind.  At some point, not letting go becomes damaging – it tarnishes and controls the future.

I must release the past and move forward.

How do we let go of the past?  What can we do to release that which we have been clinging to for so long?  How do we forgive when we have been hurt deeply?

It is not easy.  However, it is necessary if we are to make room for growth and the opportunities of the future.

Here are some suggestions that can help you along in the process of healing and forgiveness.

Use words

Words are powerful.  Talk about your past, your problems, your anger, and your fears with a trusted friend or counselor.  Get the words out.  Yell, cry, scream, laugh – speak.  Talking it out will help.  Be open and honest about what is going on inside your head and heart.

Write

If talking is not possible or always available, write out your thoughts and experiences.  Journal your thoughts, your prayers, your goals and dreams.  Write a letter to the one who offended you – but don’t mail it.  Write out the account of your past – of the events that wounded you.  Words are powerful, and sometimes getting them out of your head and onto paper is rejuvenating.  For more insight into how writing your story can heal, check out Claire De Boer’s beautiful website: http://thegiftofwriting.com

Create something beautiful

Whether art, music, dance, poetry, gardening or spreadsheets – do something creative that releases your inner spirit and emotional tension.  We are all created by God in His image.  He has gifted each of us with the ability to create something beautiful.  Do so.  It will refresh your soul and help you along the journey of forgiveness.

Help someone

Part of the healing process is reaching beyond ourselves and our selfishness and seeing the world from another’s perspective.  Get out and help someone who is less fortunate or is going through struggles.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen, play with a neighbor’s child, or help at an animal shelter.  Whatever you are passionate about, go and be generous of your time and energy in that activity expecting nothing in return but good memories.  When you give and are generous, it changes your perspective and helps you let go of the past.

Practice gratitude

Be thankful for all the blessings you have.  Write them down.  Share them with others.  Thank someone for helping you or walking alongside you.  Gratitude will help heal.

Our lives are short.  Don’t worsen the few days remaining because you carry the weight of bitterness and anger.  Move away from the past.  Let go.  Remember that forgiveness is not just a one time thing, but a process.  Let go a little bit more each day.  Embrace the new, and allow it to displace the past.

Forgive the one who offended you.

Forgive yourself for holding on too tightly.

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About John Forrest

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