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Healing Memories – Forgiven

Mountain praise


We are beloved of God and made in the image of God but we are not God. We are not perfect. We miss the mark (and sin). Sometimes we are unaware of our failings…”what we have done and what we have failed to do”. Regularly we need to acknowledge our failings, seek forgiveness and make restoration. Sometimes we are so aware of our failings that we wallow in remorse, shame and guilt. Yet God is God and God’s love is perfect, merciful and forgiving.

Skill Definition:

  • I can reflect on my day and attend to what I have done wrong or failed to do.
  • I can accept responsibility for my failures, seek forgiveness and restoration.
  • I can remember Christ who transforms remorse into sorrow, shame into compassion, and guilt into accepting forgiveness.

Key Learning Points:

  • Reflecting on my daily experience I can become aware of things I have done that were wrong and things I have failed to do that would have made a positive difference.
  • I can reflect on God’s mercy and forgiveness.
  • When I am plagued by on-going negative emotions I can focus on how Christ redeems my experience and heals my memories, remorse, shame and guilt.

Faith Worldview:

  • The Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not abandon you, destroy you, or forget the promise to your ancestors that he swore he would keep. Deuteronomy 4:31
  • Forgiveness is needed at two levels: first that I am forgiven, which frees me from my guilt; and secondly, that I forgive which frees me from my anger. Unless we forgive, we cannot be free. – Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality

Learning Path:

Deeper Topics:

  • “Please forgive me” and “I forgive you” can be a bridge that reestablishes relationship and allows healing of painful memories.
  • Beyond accepting responsibility I need to engage in dialogue with the person I’ve offended and be accountable for restoring what I can. Restorative Justice

Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:

Moral Compass

  • When I reflect on my day I need a moral compass the 2 great commandments: Love God; and love your neighbor as yourself. I can also use the 10 commandments. Unfamiliar with the 10 commandments?
    • Get a copy of them from your faith community and with your mentor rewrite them in language you understand. You can view a sample via the 10 Commandments video.
    • Use these when you need help setting your moral compass and knowing right from wrong.

Awareness of God’s Mercy

  • Jesus called Peter, “The rock on whom I will build my church.” But long before Peter became that rock, that foundation, he made some big mistakes. Can you identify some of the mistakes Simon Peter made?
    • When he was coming down the mountain after Jesus was transfigured he tried to convince Jesus not to go to Jerusalem and face death. Jesus rebuked him, “Get behind me Satan.”
    • Peter tried to walk on water when he saw Jesus do it, but lost his focus on Jesus and started to drown.
    • Peter promised Jesus at the Last Supper that he would never desert Jesus, but wound up denying him three times that very night.
  • Write down your three biggest mistakes, failures or disappointments. Reflect on each one and ask God for mercy.
  • Show the video How Far the East is from the West

“Let It Go”

Let’s look at Henry Nowen’s definitions, results and remedies of remorse, shame and guilt…(from the book Discernment) Italics added

  • Memory of past actions can lead to remorse, whose root word, mordere, mean literally “to bite”! Remorse is the biting sensation that causes me to say: “How could I do such a things? Why did I let myself go this way? How stupid of me! How could I let that happen?” Remorse can keep me awake at night, make me restless during the day, and take away my peace of mind.
  • The pain of memory can also make me ashamed. Shame makes me aware of my surroundings and susceptible to the negative assessment of others. In shame I say, “What will others say about me? What will they think? Have I made a fool of myself? Will they laugh at me because of what I do or who I am?”
  • Guilt makes me realize that I have hurt someone else. In guilt I say, “I did harm to my friends. I have broken something precious. I have wounded another.” When I relate to my past with remorse, shame or guilt, the danger is that I will harden my heart and be unable to discern the divine presence within and without. When my heart is hardened it is closed, unavailable and cold. A hardened heart is a heart in which remorse has turned into morbid introspection, shame into low self-esteem, and guilt into defensiveness…
  • Remembering Christ
    • transforms remorse into contrition (saying I’m sorry)
    • converts shame to compassion, which allows us to reach out to others who share our struggles
    • prevents guild from overwhelming us and makes us receptive to forgiveness.
  • Many of us have been touched by the song, “Let It Go”, it’s not just a catchy tune, or great singing or music, it speaks to our hardened/frozen hearts. Watch video.
  • What do I need to let go of?

Why Should I Be Sorry?

  • You may be aware of the need to free yourself by forgiving others. Apartheid was a former social system in South Africa in which black people and people from other racial groups did not have the same political and economic rights as white people and were forced to live separately from white people. Archbishop Tutu, who suffered against apartheid, shares briefly when we should forgive others. Desmond Tutu How Do We Know We Need to Forgive
  • But if someone forgives us does that free us from the same painful memory just by them letting go of their pain? Take a look at this slightly longer video and see what Archbishop Tutu says we need to do, when we have been forgiven by others, to be free of the pain. Forgiveness: “What do you do to forgive someone?” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu
  • How do I access forgiveness? What does it mean to confess? Saying you are sorry to those you’ve offended.
  • To whom do I need to confess, say “I’m sorry” to, to “open the window”.
  • Make a list of those you need to say “I’m sorry” to. Pledge to tackle this list from the most important to the least in a reasonable amount of time.

Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):

  • Same as above

Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:

  • What have I done today that I should not have done or could have done better?
  • Who do I need to ask to forgive me?
  • Do I need to restore a relationship? How?
  • What opportunity to do good today did I reject? Why?
  • What would I do differently?
  • God loves me without exception. Do I accept God’s forgiveness and mercy?
  • What causes me remorse, shame or guilt? How do I let it go?

Tools and Templates:

Word Definition:

  • Remorse – deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.
  • Shame – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
  • Guilt – feelings of culpability for offenses or from a sense of inadequacy: morbid self-reproach.
  • Forgiveness – to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.

Short Stories/Essays:

  • Nothing available at this time.


  • The Four Things That Matter Most by Ira Byock, M.D. or watch the video Saying the Four Things that Matter Most for Living and Dying Well
  • Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody by Allen R. Hunt



  • The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.” ― Mark Twain
  • I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘Well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one’s own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves.” ― Maya Angelou

One-Point Lesson:

Related Skills:

Summary 2-page Lesson Examples:

  • Nothing available at this time.

A special thank you to Linda Wihl for the Christian Spirituality wikis. Linda is a local leader in the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. http://www.ivcusa.org/