How does forgiveness usually work? I do something wrong to you, I feel bad about it, I ask for forgiveness, you say I forgive you, and then that’s it, I’m off the hook?
Forgiveness is “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well”.
So forgiveness not only allows the person who offended or wronged to be released from their wrong doing, it also allows the person, the forgiver, to be set free from any bitter feelings or a negative attitude they have, it allows them to heal.
Recently I read that forgiveness means “giving up my right to hurt you for you hurting me”. When we choose to forgive other people in our lives it releases us from those wrongdoers, and allows us to heal. Whether those people in our life have asked for our forgiveness or not, it doesn’t matter. We can’t control other people, we can only control ourselves.
When we don't forgive the people who hurt us most it’s so much easier to act out in ways that tear others down and destroy rather than build. For example, when we are acting out from a place of offense, disappointment, emotional hurt, fear, or distrust this affects how we react to people or situations, and may result in us hurting the people we love and need most.
Forgiveness isn't always easy. Especially when the person you need to forgive has deeply cut you, when the wound is gushing, or when the scars are still fresh. But forgiveness doesn’t mean that what they did is justified, or okay, it doesn’t mean that you have to trust them again, and it doesn’t mean that you can forget everything and pretend that it never happened. Forgiveness prevents their behaviour from destroying your heart, from destroying your soul.
It is one thing to forgive, but it is another to remain at peace with your decision to be released from those feelings. As Martin Luther King Jr said above, forgiveness is a permanent change in attitude. Don't hold grudges; don't bring up times of wrongdoing that have already been dealt with in the past during times of current heartbreak. The past is the past. You can’t change the past; you can only change the future. Forgiveness will bring you peace, we just need to be sure to truly let go and move on.
Forgiveness is actually such an important process to go through in order for ourselves to truly heal, so we are able to walk in God’s blessings, rather than being burdened by bitterness and negativity. So I encourage you to forgive the person that has hurt you, to let yourself be free from the burden on your heart, to be at peace, and to deal with it and let it go. It will look different for everyone, you may need to tell the person that you forgive them, you may need to have a conversation with them, you may need to flick them a text…whatever it looks like, I encourage you to do it. Freedom is waiting for you! x