Exercises to stop thinking about how you have been wounded – – (reading Unpacking Forgiveness isn’t one of the exercises)

Chris —  September 20, 2010

If you are struggling to stop thinking about a wound – – if you are on the mental gerbil wheel – – then reading a book on forgiveness is probably not the best way to escape the turmoil.  Rather, through the below suggestions enlarge your thinking about what Christ will do in the future.

On Friday, I posted that a biblical strategy to escape the mental turmoil of past wounds is to cultivate a vivid picture of the final redemptive work of Christ.  (See here).

Below are some practical suggestions for cultivating a vivid picture of the final redemptive work of Christ.  Notice that this list is NOT so much about reading books about forgiveness – – though there may be some good ones out there!  Reading about forgiveness may only cause you to think about the wound more.  Rather, absorb your mind with what Christ will do in the future!

  • Memorize Scripture about what Christ will do upon his return. Rather, than choosing verses that apply to the wrong someone did to you, memorize Revelation 21 or Revelation 22.  (For help with memorization, see here).  Repeat to remember, and repeat to meditate.  Or, memorize 2 Cor 4:16-18 or Matthew 5:1-12.  Notice that the beatitudes talk in large part about what will happen in the future.
  • Think creatively about what it will be like when Christ returns.  Decide where you and your Christian loved ones will meet.  My family is going to meet at the 5th tree on the right side of the river as we face the throne!  How can you lead your family in vividly contemplating glory?
  • Carefully read Jonathan Edward sermon, “The Excellency of Christ.” Reading this sermon is hard work.  But, it’s worth the effort.  This paragraph alone will make your heart sing.

When the saints get to heaven, they shall not merely see Christ, and have to do with him as subjects and servants with a glorious and gracious Lord and Sovereign, but Christ will entertain them as friends and brethren. This we may learn from the manner of Christ’s conversing with his disciples here on earth: though he was their Sovereign Lord, and did not refuse, but required, their supreme respect and adoration, yet he did not treat them as earthly sovereigns are wont to do their subjects. He did not keep them at an aweful distance, but all along conversed with them with the most friendly familiarity, as a father amongst a company of children, yea, as with brethren. So he did with the twelve, and so he did with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He told his disciples, that he did not call them servants, but friends, and we read of one of them that leaned on his bosom: and doubtless he will not treat his disciples with less freedom and endearment in heaven. He will not keep them at a greater distance for his being in a state of exaltation; but he will rather take them into a state of exaltation with him. This will be the improvement Christ will make of his own glory, to make his beloved friends partakers with him, to glorify them in his glory, as he says to his Father, John 17:22, 23. “And the glory which thou hast given me, have I given them, that they may be one, even as we are one I in them” etc. We are to consider, that though Christ is greatly exalted, yet he is exalted, not as a private person for himself only, but as his people’s head; he is exalted in their name, and upon their account, as the first fruits, and as representing the whole harvest. He is not exalted that he may be at a greater distance from them, but that they may be exalted with him.

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10 responses to Exercises to stop thinking about how you have been wounded – – (reading Unpacking Forgiveness isn’t one of the exercises)

  1. Chris, forgiving the criminal who hurt my child is a 3-steps-forward/2-steps-backward deal. A big part of the task is what you address above — getting beyond, over, around, or above the relentless replaying and rehashing of the crimes themselves. Helping my child try to cope with a scary world while acknowledging the sovereignty of God in all this is like trying to walk a tightrope over a lake of crocodiles…with no net.

  2. Chris, thanks for this. I wasn’t feeling well this morning and was laying in bed awhile and was praying and during this time I revisited some serious childhood wounds where I was legitimately a victim. I have struggled all my life with these things and over the years I believe I have truly forgiven, but sometimes the sting is still there and I find myself asking God again and again, why me, what purpose did this really serve. It occurred to me that I may never get this resolved here on earth but I did find myself asking God to reveal to me the why’s behind this when I get to heaven. But it also occurred to me that He doesn’t owe me and answer, and that in heaven I’ll have a perspective I don’t have now.
    All that to say, thanks for this, very timely and I appreciate it very much. Uncanny how sometimes God may lead you to post something that speaks directly to the need of a brother who lives hundreds of miles away from you.

  3. David, thanks for staying in touch. It really is amazing how God puts grace together in our lives from unexpected places.

  4. Im glad Ive stumbled on this cause I m presently in a mental lwhirlpool of trying to understand forgiveness and wounds inflicted through betrayal.

    In trying to unravel and understand it, seems as though the rift gets wider and wider because all I ever speak about is this deep feeling of sadness and mistrust .
    Im somewhat comforted by the fact that I,ve been looking at the beatitudes and hold onto that,but will this feeling ever pass and is there any hope of moving beyond this point?

  5. Grace, there more certainly is hope for moving beyond where you are at. But it is a journey that we have to be willing to walk through with Christ.

    Do you have a church home where the Word is preached?

  6. I as well am struggling with betrayal and am constantly faced with triggers reminding me of he betrayal. Many scenarios constantly plague me in my mind; some real and some fabricated.I feel guilty for not forgiving/forgetting the offense while trying to function as a believer. I am in a great bible believing church where my husband and I are under his care. I am finding the walk very difficult.

  7. Anne, I find it encouraging to hear from someone who is struggling forward. So many people don’t battle the mental gerbil wheel. They just give in to being shaped by wrong thought patterns.

    It is wonderful to hear that you are in a good church. That is the essential piece.

    I think music is also a key part of the strategy. Great Christian music involves both our minds and emotions and turns our focus to the right place.

    Keep battling.

  8. Some days I am shaped by wrong thought patterns and it is as though I am drowning while losing touch with reality. I’m still pushing forward in actions but not always faithfully. We are staying very active in our church. Music has been a great comfort to me! Amazing how it works on your emotions!

  9. If you get a chance, dive into the Christmas story this year in Luke. Luke tells us that he wrote it so that we might have certainty. Right now you need confidence and Luke’s Gospel will give it to you as you read.

    You can listen to my first sermon in the series at http://s3.amazonaws.com/static.sermondrop.com/theredbrickchurch/podcasts/31231/Luke_at_Christmas_1__Order_for_Certainty_.mp3

  10. What you are saying expresses well where so many people are at . . . there is a good chance I will be quoting you (as “Anne” only) in my sermon on Sunday.

    You aren’t alone in feeling your head go under water.

    Christ is real.