Only the people we truly care about can hurt us with their actions or words. And those wounds can have lasting effects that can affect us physically and emotionally for a lifetime. Maybe your mom or dad was very critical of you as a child, or even in your present they may have said hurtful things about your parenting skills, successes or failures. Has a coworker try to sabotage you at work, or take credit for a project that you worked on alone? These are just some things that can cause lasting feelings of hurt or anger , bitterness, or may cause you to want revenge. Now, you can hold on to this anger, resentment, and/or thoughts , or you can decide to grow and embrace forgiveness and move forward.
Forgiving someone for hurting you and releasing them, really releases you. May I share something with you that you have probably heard before? Forgiveness is for you, not them! Half of the time, the offender does not even know that they offended you…or worse, they may not even care! I hope that I say this right but I read somewhere that unforgiveness is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die…insanity!! So while you are over there losing sleep and telling every ear who will listen about the offense, the person is sleeping good and moving on with their life, no worries. Being angry at someone does not make the person fall in line to treat you how you wanted to be treated. Anger can actually impede your healing, in more than one way. If you don’t attempt to practice forgiveness, you are going to be the one who pays. When we embrace forgiveness, we have peace, we can see hope, gratitude, and joy in our lives and not be blinded by anger. Just think about what freedom you will have physically, emotionally, and spiritually when you make the choice to release someone(you) from the burden of your unforgiveness.
Basically, forgiveness is making the decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. If you do not let go, that offense will take up room in your life, until you let go, even if you bury it and act like you forgave someone, it will come up again as an unresolved issue in your life. Raising my hand on that one because I had problems with unforgiveness at one time. Now I feel like I am too free as far as forgiving goes but I know that it is the right thing to do. I want to be free, not a prisoner to my thinking. Once we forgive our loved ones, we get to experience understanding, empathy, and compassion for the one that hurt you…just the way someone who chose to forgive you for hurting them did for you. And don’t say that you have never offended anyone before. How do you know? They may be doing the same thing you are doing, showing your anger from a distance hating them from within…more insanity! I think if someone offends us, we should let them know. When you love someone, you should always have a heart of reconciliation when it comes to them. They are not going to do and say everything just right. The offense should be addressed quickly (when you marinate on offenses, they become much bigger than they really are) and both parties should work on getting things back to a happier place. Anything else is displaying pride and conditional love, which has no place in long term relationships.
Forgiving someone does not mean that they get away with anything or that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you; it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong either. It just means that you are choosing to take care of the heart they are neglecting. You are choosing to love you more than you hate what they did or said to you. That is not easy!! It is definitely necessary though. Your mind and your body will thank you for it too. Letting go of the grudges and bitterness makes way for the good in your life: peace, health, and happiness. Unforgiveness is a heavy load to carry. Do you really want that burden? Holding on to those grudges crowds out the good in your life and eventually you will be swallowed up by your own misery. You will be wondering why others are avoiding your calls and hanging out with you..and your miserable self. So let it go and stop defining your life by how you have been hurt.
Forgiveness is challenging, especially when the “offender” doesn’t know they offended you or won’t admit it. Some ways that may help you to forgive can be:
- realize that forgiveness is a process and some hurts may need to be revisited and forgiven over and over
- get a journal, write a letter and toss it, pray or meditate- maybe even talk to a spiritual leader or trusted friend
- remember when you hurt someone you love and how they have forgiven you
- think of how you have been forgiven by God
- put yourself in their shoes. Would you have reacted the same way?
I am not saying that if you forgive the person, you are guaranteed to be reconciled. It may be impossible if the person has died or is unwilling to communicate. And that’s okay. Forgiveness is still possible because that emotion belongs to you, not them. You may still have to put up boundaries, and that is okay too.
The benefits of forgiving others are too many to name and they are different for all of us. In order to live our best lives, forgiveness is going to be a major component; not just forgiving others but forgiving yourself! Yes, you have offended yourself many times, mistreated and abused yourself in word and in deed and you have to give yourself the same courtesy, forgive! Don’t think about it too much, Just do it. Your happiness awaits…..