What I've Learned About Forgiveness

Forgiveness...this is a powerful word. I once heard it described as "no longer wishing harm on the person who hurt you". I have often thought back to this definition as a measure of if I have already forgiven or still need to find it within me to forgive.

Sometimes it's easy to forgive. Other times, forgiveness feels impossible. The hurt is so deep and trust is ripped away...these betrayals have been the hard ones to forgive for me personally.

Who is forgiveness for? On the surface, we think the injured party needs to forgive the person who hurt them, for the sake of the one who hurt them. This can lead to a big problem if the person who did the hurting has never apologized. Sometimes, that person does in fact need to feel forgiven. Most of the time though, I believe that forgiveness is really for the sake of the one who is hurt.

When we choose to withhold forgiveness, we are clinging to hard feelings and a sense of injustice. We carry the anger and betrayal around within us. We dwell on the incident and it stirs the pain all over again. Those feelings most likely will never affect the one who did the hurting. Our lack of forgiveness isn't hurting them, it's hurting us.

When we forgive, we aren't saying the situation didn't happen. We aren't making an excuse for whatever actions caused the pain. But like the definition I shared above states, it allows us to get to the place where we no longer wish the other person harm. We can let go of the ugly feelings. It doesn't mean the relationship will be restored. In some cases, the relationship can heal, grow and move on. Other times, the relationship may never be re-established but either way, you will no longer suffer at the thought of that person or the incident. Forgiveness allows us to truly heal so we can move on in whatever way we need to.

Forgiveness is a choice and sometimes that choice has to be made over and over and over again. It can be a process. It's hard to find peace within yourself if you are harboring bitterness. It may be hard to forgive at times but I believe it is necessary for our own peace of mind and health.

I try to remember that we are all human. We are all doing the best we can with what we've got. This reminder doesn't make it all go away or restore the broken bridges alone, it just helps me to remember that no one is perfect. We all hurt the people in our lives at some point. And when I cross that line, I would want to be forgiven. With that said, some days are easier than others. That's how life is though, it's a process. A growing, stretching, sometimes painful process. This part, forgiveness is one of the steps in the journey that I feel is necessary, for our own sake.

Forgiving yourself is also important. For healing, growth as well as for your mental health. I want to explore forgiving yourself at another time. Stay tuned for this topic.

I'm sure not every one will agree with my ideas on forgiveness and that's ok. What are your thoughts on forgiveness? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the process of forgiveness.

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