Living Your Faith at Work: The road to forgiveness

There are many situations that expose us to hurt and anger on the job. From people getting credit for something we did to someone revealing a secret we shared to our not getting a job we were counting on. While it’s human to become hurt and even angry with those we work with, as Christians we know we must work to overcome our feelings and forgive the person.

Here are 10 steps to take to work through the forgiveness process.

Steps to forgiveness
1. Reflect
After the initial surprise or shock of the hurt has passed reflect on what happened. Resist the temptation to play psychiatrist and analyze why the person did what they did. Read, consider, and pray about what Jesus taught us about forgiveness and reflect on the stories of forgiveness in the Bible such as Joseph moving on to forgive his brothers who had sold him into slavery.

2. Identify why this hurt you so much.
How did what happened hurt your ego? Has your pride been wounded in some way? Part of what makes us hurt is the tendency to react defensively in a situation. We’re protective of our self image and that’s what someone may have wounded

3. Acknowledge
Acknowledge what you’re feeling and your right to feel the way you do. It’s OK to feel hurt, angry, embarrassed. Vent these feelings in a safe, healthy way by talking with a confidant or counselor, writing in a journal, or even taking Abraham Lincoln’s advice and writing a letter to the person and then tearing it up.

4. Put what happened into perspective
As trite as it sounds there are many ways your situation could probably be worse. Think about what happened and reflect on what learning there is for you in the situation. There’s a lesson to be learned in every negative situation we’ve found ourselves in.

5. Decide to forgive.
Pray for the strength and wisdom to forgive. Pray for the person who’s hurt you. When you hold on to bad feelings you allow negativity to win and hold you back from being a strong, faithful person. Make a conscious choice to let go of your hurt and anger.

6. Release your pain.
When you hear yourself dwelling on the negativity associated with the situation, stop and change your thoughts. You control your thinking and therefore you control the pain you feel.

7. Let go.
This can be the hardest part. Don’t dwell on the situation. That doesn’t mean you don’t protect yourself. For example, if someone you told a secret to revealed your secret you may forgive that person eventually but you certainly wouldn’t share another confidence with them.

8. Reach out
When you’ve truly forgiven the other person reach out and let that person know, either with words or with gestures. If you find this part difficult you haven’t truly forgiven or gotten past the situation.

9. Pray
Continue to pray for the strength to deal effectively with hurt and anger. Pray for those who have hurt and angered you in the past.

10. Give thanks
Give thanks to God for His constant forgiveness of our own failings and mistakes and for the sacrifice that Jesus made for us.

The office is a stressful place where our egos get bruised on a regular basis. It’s easy for us to feel hurt and angry towards those we work with, but our charge as people of faith is to forgive others as our Father forgives us.

Only through prayer, thoughtful reflection, and whole-hearted efforts will we be able to forgive and to live up to our collective name as Christians.