“I forgive you…”
More than once, I have said this and didn’t really mean it. I know it’s wrong, but it seemed like it was right thing to say, not necessarily how I really felt. It took being hurt a few times, and a bad bout of resentment to fully understand the weight of those words. Once I realized how important and vital forgiveness is, I was able to exercise it with honesty. A little while a go someone posed this question to me, “Is forgiveness important?”. The short answer is: yes, absolutely.
Here are somethings that I have learned about forgiveness:
1. Forgiveness is a process.
A few years ago a close friend of mine found out that she had been cheated on. Almost seconds after he confessed, she told him that she forgave him. She didn’t even give herself time to get upset. His confession ended up sinking in a few days later and she wanted to take her forgiveness back. It was too late. It’s important that you don’t expect to be ready to forgive someone right away. Give yourself time to heal. Forgive someone when you are ready and genuinely mean it.
2. Don’t forgive until you are ready.
This goes with the lesson above. Premature forgiveness creates unnecessary drama and angst. When we forgive too soon we end up created a bigger problem. I can’t stress enough that it is a process. Give yourself time to go through all the emotion. Go through the hurt, the pain, the anger, the insecurity, feel it all. Going through all that emotion keeps you in touch with your feelings. It allows you to keep the focus on you until you are ready.
3. Relying on forgiveness from someone can yield your healing.
If you have done something you weren’t proud of and you want someone to forgive, you that’s okay. But, you can not beat yourself up if they don’t. You can ask, but don’t let it hinder you. When you dwell on if someone is going to forgive you, you don’t allow yourself to heal and grow. Make up your mind that you asked and it is up to them to forgive you, or not. Guilt is a heavy load that we don’t need to carry.
4. Not forgiving someone can make you physically sick.
When you hold condemnation, blame, and resentment inside you it can eat you alive. The weight of those feelings can bring you all the way down. That heaviness is a terrible feeling and it can hinder your growth. It can create depression, stress, and interfere with your health. It can create anxiety. Just let it go.
5. Forgiveness does not mean you excuse what a person did or that they hurt you.
Many people choose not to forgive someone because they think it means the other person’s behavior is excused. It does not mean that at all. It doesn’t mean you are forgetting your hurt. Forgiveness is deciding that it what they did is no longer important or a factor in your development. It means that you are ready to move forward.
6. Forgiveness gives you peace.
When you make up your mind that what someone did will no longer control your feelings or take over your thoughts, the feeling of freedom has no comparison. Letting go gives you sanity. You deserve that peace. Don’t let resentment cloud your life.
7. When someone forgives you, it does not give you permission to keep doing it.
Forgiveness takes a lot of vulnerability and courage. You are still responsible for your actions. You are not excused because you are forgiven. Use the other person’s pardon as a reason to become a better person.
8. Most importantly, God forgives us.
For even the worst things, you are forgiven. In your quest to become your best person, you are also on a quest to be more like God. Our God love for others gives us the power to forgive. You have that power.
Just remember these steps and you will be free. No more shackles of resentment, no more chains of condemnation, no more bondage of blame, you are free.