I had the opportunity to lead an experience of "tasting forgiveness and unforgiveness" at my church this morning. I thought I would share it with you for Day 19 in my tasting experiment and see if you want to try it for yourself. If you do, let me know how it goes.
Tasting Forgiveness and Unforgiveness
How do we come to know deep within our hearts that we are fully forgiven by God? How do we forgive ourselves? And perhaps hardest yet, how do we forgive those who have hurt us deeply?
It is a process, for sure. To give the impression that it is done in one single act is misleading. But while we have to be actively involved in that process, we can’t receive forgiveness or offer forgiveness without God’s help. It is a work of the Spirit. It requires an experience of spiritual healing. Consider working through the following contemplative exercise to assist in your healing journey of forgiveness.
Begin with an experience of tasting unforgiveness. Pour a small amount of vinegar in a cup. It represents the bitterness of unforgiveness—something described in Hebrews 12:15 that happens when we refuse to forgive and a poisonous root of bitterness grows up inside us, and poisons others.
- Take a comfortable poster, breathe slowly and deeply. Hallow this moment, bring your full attention, and invite God to be with you right now.
- Take a sip of the vinegar. Let is saturate your mouth, cheeks inside, tongue, roof of mouth, and taste buds.
- Ask the Spirit to show you through this taste where there is bitterness in your heart toward yourself—something that you haven’t forgiven yourself for and therefore, can’t believe that God forgives you. Don’t shame yourself. God isn’t accusing you/condemning you. He wants to set you free.
- Take another sip. Taste it. Let the bitterness soak in. Ask the Spirit to lead you through the taste to any bitter root in your heart toward someone else. Again, just listen, but don’t shame yourself. God doesn’t shame you. He wants to free you to forgive.
- Take another sip and then ask God to show you if you have any bitterness toward him—for some way that he has disappointed you, let you down.
- Take a few moments and write, draw or doodle about any bitter taste of unforgiveness that you identified.
What does forgiveness taste like? Try tasting an old-fashioned red and white peppermint. It represents the cleansing of sin. I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
- Resume a comfortable posture of prayer, put the peppermint in your mouth and allow the flavor to permeate and cleanse your palate. As you suck on the mint, allow it to cleanse all the bitter taste of vinegar away.
- Now, if the Spirit brought to mind any bitterness in your heart toward yourself, name that right now. Taste the cleansing mint in your mouth and imagine God’s forgiveness washing over that issue for which you have struggled to forgive yourself. I Corinthians 6:11 says, “But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Confess, “I am cleansed. I am holy. I am right with God.” Thank him.
- Keep tasting the peppermint, let it remind you of the cleansing and refreshment you receive through God’s forgiveness of you.
- Now, if the Spirit brought to mind any bitterness in your heart toward another, name that person and picture their face. As you taste the peppermint and are reminded of the forgiveness you have received, forgiveness that you now possess within you, imagine it washing over the wound caused by this person and cleansing it. Let it be a healing balm in this wound. Offer this person forgiveness from the supply of forgiveness in your own heart. Scoop some up and offer it to them as a gift. Matthew 6:14 says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
- Keep tasting your peppermint and let it remind you of the forgiveness you have taken into your heart.
- Finally, if the Spirit brought to mind any bitterness toward God, name what that is to God. Tell him why you hurt. Ask God to remove any blockage between you and him. Ask him to heal your heart and restore intimacy with him. Listen to these words of David in Psalm 73:
“Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth."
- Take a moment and express your desire for God and write/draw/doodle any thoughts you have as a result of this experience.