On Forgiveness

This topic is a hard one. I think we all state that we forgive, but I also think that many of us are unaware that we are lairs. We want to forgive, but we can’t – or we think we can’t.

Sitting in church, I heard some wise words on forgiveness, and a few things were said to me to allow it to make sense. Often when it comes to forgiving, we have feelings in the way of our thinking.

Mark 11:24-25

24 For this reason I tell you, whatever you pray and ask for, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
25 Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your sins.”

Forgiveness is something that is not easy. When we are hurt in some manner those feelings are strong and real. So often, we want to forget that the hurt ever happened and we want to push it away. That’s where poor coping might come in.

I’m learning that it’s okay to feel hurt and upset about past experiences, we just can’t let that rule us. When we hold on to hurt, we are holding ourselves back.

My psychologist told me, forgiveness isn’t about letting others off the hook, it’s about letting yourself off the hook. It’s about working to allow yourself to move on and past the offenses and events that have happened to you. It’s about allowing the offenses to have less control over you and letting go of the pain inflicted. When we forgive, it doesn’t mean we forget – in fact, we learn from what has happened. But forgiving allows us to let go of the hurt and anger and saying that it will no longer bother us.

When we don’t allow ourselves to move on from what has happened, we just replay it all in our mind. We relive the very things that have hurt us and we cease from moving forward. In essence, we stand still in the past. The longer we hold a grudge and allow the offense to control our feelings, the less in control we are of our own life. I think we don’t realize how much those feelings can have a hold on us.

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Forgiveness is instantaneous – not long and laborious. What feels long and laborious is the learning side of it. If we choose to forgive, we are off the hook, but that doesn’t mean the feelings have gone away. They are real and they don’t just disappear. We have to remind ourselves that we can move on and that holding onto the feelings (typically negative) will do nothing for us. All of those times when I thought I was “forgiving” I really wasn’t. I would forgive and “move on”… but the moving on isn’t the easy part. The “moving on” takes time and patience (something that I hate!). The “moving on” takes reminders that we can let go of feelings and not allow them to control us. I think our brain can say something fast, but we have to believe what we are saying. How does one believe? Well… my best guess is you don’t deny that it hurt and that you can move on and let go of the anger and deal with those feelings (feelings…. the terrible f-bomb).

I think, often, it’s easier to forgive others than ourselves. We know ourselves best and we should know the “right” decisions to make at any given time. When we “let ourselves down” I think we often think “I should have seen it coming”…. or “I should have prevented that”… or “if I had made a different decision, the outcome would not the be same.” If we think about forgiving ourselves like we do forgiving a small child, then it’s somewhat of a different and simple process. If an adorable small child apologizes for a mistake made, even if it’s destroying something you loved, it’s easy to understand that he/she did not mean what they are doing. Humans make mistakes, and the only way to let them move on is to let them off the hook. So… why aren’t we afforded the same opportunity? Why can’t we be like that small child that made a mistake? Well…. we can be – only if we allow ourselves that grace.

Once you accept forgiveness in your heart, things can change and you can begin again. Accepting forgiveness can free us from the past hurts and lead us to a place of understanding and, ultimately, freedom in living.

“Before the world began, God planned that Christ Jesus would show us God’s kindness.” – 2 Timothy 1:9

Our mistakes are nothing new in this world! God has known that man is not perfect, nor could he ever be! If our mistakes are understood by God, then our mistakes can be understood by other people as well. We are our harshest critic. If another person made similar mistakes as us, we would forgive them and remind them that they can move on…. we should be allowed to do the same.

So, how do we accomplish forgiving – others or ourselves? I have no clue! Haha. Okay, maybe I have a few ideas…

• Look at the hurtful situation from a different lens. Look at it for facts and why events may have happened.
• Think about why there is a particular outcome. Maybe take all emotion out of it. Understanding why actions were taken is key (I think, at least).
• Once we understand how and why things happened, we can look at things from a rational stand-point.

I think letting go of anger, resentment, grudges, hurt allows us to move on and live more of a free life. I’m not talking about letting people off the hook and denying responsibility for the offense…. by no means is that an answer – but an answer could be that you no longer let that offense control you, and you allow yourself to learn from it and not let it define you for a moment, day or life time.

From what I’m learning…. Forgiveness = Freedom.

Something to think about… do you forgive?

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