Does Forgiveness Come From The Heart Or The Mind?

000_6910RetouchIn her book “Forgiveness” June Hunt describes what we can do when we don’t want to forgive someone:

“Whenever you don’t feel like doing something you should do, examine your thoughts. While you can’t control what your offenders do, you can control your thinking about your offenders…….when you carefully choose what you will dwell on, your emotions will begin to line up, and you will gradually even feel like forgiving.”

For a long time I have known thoughts are what ultimately lead to sin and that long lasting transformation comes from the renewing of the mind as it talks about in Romans 12:2.

For example, I have been sober for over 9 years. Maintaining that sobriety meant aligning my thoughts to that of the behavioral outcome I was trying to achieve. In addition, I’ve experienced a dramatic difference in my quality of life in recent years due in part to my decision to think more positively about my circumstances.

However, when it came to forgiveness I experienced a great disconnect between the act thereof and my thoughts about the offense. I knew it was a conscious choice to forgive and I would remind God time and time again that I had indeed chosen to pardon my enemies. And yet I continued to relive their misdeeds against me over and over in my mind while repeatedly asking God the question: “how do I know if I’ve forgiven someone?”

It never occurred to me that perhaps forgiveness has more to do with the mind than the heart (at least initially).

The things we are to meditate on are clearly written in Philippians 4:8: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable –if anything is excellent or praiseworthy –think about such things.”

Applying the above scripture to our enemies and transgressors is a challenge. However, if our thoughts are instrumental in determining our destiny; than how we choose to think about our offenders could play a major role in our emotional health and overall life satisfaction.

Jodie Stevens

One Comment Add yours

  1. Joanna Jullien says:

    Beautiful Jodie.

    So true that the heart/mind connection can be governed by faith, which enables us to choose thoughts that come from the Lord, or simply react to how the world informs us (be very insecure, angry and afraid). I have found forgiveness is like exercising a faith muscle, which gets stronger the more we apply it (choosing the right thoughts as you say). And over time, the forgiveness faith muscle gets stronger – but it always requires mindful effort because it is how we overcome the world as Jesus taught us.

    Thank you for sharing your intelligent heart.



    Joanna Jullien


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