Forgiveness- Easy to say, difficult to do but recomended for the purpose of healing, a chance at happiness and growth.We all have been in situations where we are faced with the choice to forgive someone or continue to hold them in unforgiveness and while the ability to do so may depend sometimes on the gravity of the offence, it is indeed true when they say that forgiveness is for you and not for the one who hurt you.
If that is true, then why is forgiveness often so difficult and why do we sometimes prefer to stay angry and bitter? Is it that we truly do not understand what forgiveness is or that we do not want the person who hurt us to feel like we are forgetting what it is they have done to us.
Forgiveness is one thing but continuing to allow those who betray our trust remain in our lives is an entirely different thing. When we do the latter, we are really only perpetrating the victim role and giving the other person permission to hurt us again. When my year long marriage came to an end, I was incredibly bitter and thought I would never be able to forgive my ex. I refused to speak to him and denied him any access to me for well over a year. I did this in part because I was still very angry but also because I knew that I needed to give my emotions time to run their course. I was not going to be pressured by him or his family to forgive him or speak to him before I was ready so that when I eventually did allow him contact me and offer his apologies, I was in a place where I could genuinely offer forgiveness. I should also say here that he did not immediately acknowledge or accept his wrongdoings, neither did he show remorse for the things he had done that prompted my walking out of our marriage but I had been able to forgive him and move on before he actually apologized. My decision was one I had to make daily by releasing the pain one moment at a time until I was totally freed from it. It is important for anyone going through a separation or a divorce not to try and hurry the process of forgiveness along purely because you do not want to feel pain anymore. You must be honest about where you are emotionally and communicate that if necessary to your ex, your family or friends. Joyce Meyer made what I considered a gripping statement in one of her many books on her journey to forgiving the people who had hurt her in the past, she said "my emotions had not yet caught up with my decision to forgive..." At first, I didn't understand what she meant but as I continued reading her story, all she was simply saying was that although she had made the decision to forgive those who caused her pain, she was still caught up in her emotions by the things they had done to her and so needed more time to allow the way she felt towards those people change which could only happen once she was able to let go of the painful memories.
For some, withholding forgiveness is a refusal to let go of 'perceived power' in the sense that there is a feeling of not wanting to return to being helpless and/or weak by choosing to forgive. This in my opinion, is counter-productive because even if you choose to refuse forgiveness, you are still the one with the pain and that pain is the one with the power because it is infuencing the choice you have to let it go. We can not use forgiveness or unforgiveness as some sort of weapon against others when they wrong us even if we feel like they do not deserve our forgiveness. I chose to forgive the so-called friend who raped me years ago; I never told him I forgave him but I did. We are of course no longer friends and time has somehow erased his name and face from my memory. I still recall the events of that fateful day, which I've blogged about before (you can search the #metoo and #timesup movements on the blog to read about it) but those events have zero hold over me today. Unforgiveness carries with it so many negative effects that are harmful to our mental and emotional well-being. It can leave us feeling depressed, unable to enjoy the beauties of present relationships or friendships, carries with it an anger that often rears its ugly head in a new relationship and cause us to lose connections with others.
In times that may seem like you are just not able to forgive someone, the best things to do are:
1. Remember that forgiveness is a process and does not need to be rushed. If one particular hurt stands out among the rest, focus on that one hurt and forgive as many times as you feel you need to till you are able to move on.
2. Pray for the ability and heart to forgive. If you don't know how or where to begin offering forgiveness, just ask God to help your heart heal so you can start the process of letting things go.
3. Practice empathy by trying to see things as if the shoe was on the other foot. A big part of why I was able to forgive my ex was because I was able to empathize with his background and childhood that was very different from mine. Forgiveness was possible but reconciliation was not.
On the other hand, if you are the one who has wronged another and are seeking forgiveness, the first step is being able to fully acknowledge your fault. Do not make excuses or try to justify your actions. At the same time, you must also realize that you can not force or compel anyone to forgive you or reconcile with you even if they do. Everybody deserves the right to offer forgiveness or accept it at their own time.
I hope this helps someone struggling with forgiveness and that you are encouraged to release the pain that is holding you hostage and denying you of all the happiness and joys you deserve.
Always Love 💖