Forgiveness is a powerful and affirmative part of our humanity. It should be differentiated from its close cousin, acceptance, which while important, is essentially, passive. For many, the healing power of forgiveness allows us to truly move on. A life lived without forgiveness is a life of real pain.
We are all wounded. You will be surprised to hear of all the wounds that normal people carry with them. It may be hard to believe, but many of these wounds can determine how people feel about themselves for an entire lifetime. And everyone’s been hurt in one way or another.
Forgiveness, like grieving, has its stages. It is well known that grieving has its stages. You loved someone, or you lost something dear to you. You go through denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally you come to acceptance. Forgiveness is a lot like grieving. The important things that we need to forgive don’t come easily.
First, you have to acknowledge that you have to forgive. It is important to your psychological health. Carrying old wounds is simply a burden that steals the pleasure from the life that you have now. We are not on this earth forever, and sitting in victimhood can be such a loss.
Acknowledging a wound that needs healing is only a first step. You also have to deal with real feelings of anger and at times, betrayal. I often think that the word – FAIR – is a four letter word that should sit unhappily with its other, less decent, brothers. Too many people can’t get over just how unfair life is. Such pain, for what? Life is unfair, but it is also filled with potential for beauty, love and grace. The anger over things having been unfair is a product of our immature minds needing to have a balance in nature. Yes, there may be a balance, supervised by God or by nature, but it often has little to do with the narrative that we want to write!
Forgiveness is ultimately a gift you give yourself. It allows the wounds to heal. Asking for forgiveness is a noble act. It is an acknowledgement that you hurt someone and it makes it easier for the forgiver to forgive. It takes a burden away, but this is only the first step. If you really want to be forgiven by the person that you hurt, just apologizing is not enough. You have to try to right the wrong. This is not a perfect science, but a little effort can go a long way. While nothing can undo an unfortunate experience, making amends counts.
Life is a course in life. We are taught by our experiences and no textbook can really do it for us. Learn what each chapter has to teach you. Forgiveness is part and parcel of the emotional work of learning these lessons well. From “The Intelligent Divorce” by Mark Banschick, M.D. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-intelligent-divorce/201110/can-you-forgive
So grateful am I for the lessons in recent years about forgiveness. Today I am many times more capable of letting go; of forgiving others and myself. It’s amazing how much better life is!
True forgiveness is when you can say,
“Thank you for that experience.”