How good are you at forgiving?
I have an admission and a confession to make. I think I’m the world’s worst forgiver (if such a word exists). I’m not proud of it but truth be told, I suck at forgiveness and I have a strong eye for an eye tendencies. Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally to me but staying pissed does.
I have met enough struggling forgivers (or maybe I hang out with the wrong crowds) to convince myself that forgiveness is one of the toughest things to do. But tough doesn’t mean it’s undoable. It means you have to work a little bit harder and get out of your comfort zone.
Why is it so Hard to forgive?
- Righting the wrong– sometimes forgiveness is hard because we feel that in forgiving we are righting the wrong that has been done to us or denying its existence. However, we need to understand that forgiveness does not absolve the transgressor of his crime. Forgiveness is about becoming a survivor and not a victim by letting go of the hurt and misery. It’s about freeing yourself from the shackles of victimhood.
- Strong desire for revenge– In a society that strongly believes in revenge, forgiveness always seems like a miscarriage of justice or an act of cowardice. To most of us, forgiveness means losing the opportunity for retribution. So, to you, my fellow struggling forgiver, always know that getting over it and moving on is the best revenge. Failure to move on gives your transgressor the pleasure of watching you suffer.
- A perception of forced reconciliation– We always associate forgiveness with reconciliation and this is a misconception. The fact that you have forgiven somebody does not mean that they are back in your good graces. When we forgive, we are simply saying, “Am letting you go despite everything but for any future dealings with you, you will have to earn my trust”
- Un-forgiveness is a souvenir – For people who have been deeply hurt, pain can occasionally become a souvenir that reminds you of people’s cruelty. In this case, forgiveness makes you feel like you are giving up a memento that symbolizes your brokenness.
- Freedom– forgiveness gives you the freedom to walk away and leave the past and the pain behind you. You don’t forgive people because they deserve it, you do it because you need it for your emotional and spiritual health.
- Being the bigger person– forgiveness is proof to the world and your transgressors that you are the bigger person. It’s a mark of emotional maturity and an indicator that you can rise above the negativity and make something beautiful out of the ugly ashes of hatred.
- Prevent resentment and bitterness– Terry Brooks says, “Hurt leads to bitterness, bitterness to anger, travel too far that road and the way is lost”. When you forgive, you break the crazy cycle of anger, bitterness, and resentment. You allow yourself to enjoy the little pleasures that make living worthwhile.
- Forgiveness leads to healing– Without forgiveness, the miracle of spiritual and emotional healing can never happen. Forgiveness is the healing balm that transforms your wounds into painless scars one day at a time. Healing takes time. The wounds may not vanish suddenly but every day you will get better.
I’m appealing to you, my fellow struggling forgivers to take this journey with me. It will not be easy but will be worth every effort you make. Life is too short to be spent hating and bearing grudges. Do yourself a favor, forgive and always remember that you aren’t a saint either.