We have all been hurt or disappointed at some point in our lives. Even those that love us can sometimes cause us hurt or pain. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as ‘to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt’. Many of us learned about forgiveness in church or from our parents as kids. We’ve been told to “turn the other cheek” or “don’t hold on to grudge”.
The Bible references forgiveness in many different scriptures. The Lord’s Prayer tells us “forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. We know this is the right thing to do, yet it is so HARD. I’m writing this post as someone that has struggled with forgiveness and also as someone that worked with clients that struggle with forgiveness.
So what exactly is forgiveness about and what does this mean for our lives. Have you ever had your heart broken in a relationship? Did you grow up in a home where you experienced abuse or rejection? Did someone say something awful to hurt your feelings? Have you ever been cheated on by a partner? Abused? Many of us have childhood wounds that we haven’t been able to move past. I’ve come to learn the power of forgiveness because it helps us to take back our power back.
Forgiveness isn’t about saying what the other person did was right or accepting the wrongs that was done. It doesn’t even mean that you should continue to keep the person that has hurt you in your life. What is does mean is that you make a decision that you make peace with what was done to you. When we hold on to hurt and resentment, we are letting that person have control of our lives.
So let me say this again, forgiveness is about letting go, moving on, and healing. It is saying that even though you have hurt me, I am no longer holding on to what you did, and while I’m at I also forgive myself. One of my favorite scenes in the movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” is the advice that Cecily Tyson’s character tells Kimbery Elise’s character after her husband left her for another woman after years of cheating. She said “You know I know this man put a hurting on you baby, but you’ve got to forgive him. No matter what he done, you’ve got to forgive him not for him, but for you….When somebody hurts you they take power over you, if you don’t forgive them then they keeps the power. Forgive him baby and after you forgive him, forgive yourself”.
How many of us women have had relationships in which we can’t seem to let go of what HE did? We carry all this baggage in our next relationship because we haven’t learned the art of forgiveness. How many of us have parents that didn’t always treat us “right” all the time? When we grow into adulthood, we must learn to see our parents for who they were, and forgive them.
So how to you forgive? Forgiveness is a process that may take months or even years, but the freedom that we feel when we have forgiven is AMAZING! We are no longer a victim nor and no longer held bondage to what happened to us. We can acknowledge the hurt, sit with it, and grieve through it and MAKE A DECISION to LET IT GO. The wonderful thing about forgiveness is that we have an opportunity to create a new story and to learn and grow. And while we’re at it if we can pray for the person that has hurt you and wish them well, what a blessing. So next time someone has done something to hurt you, maybe a spouse, co-worker, friend, instead of holding on to a grudge, consider forgiveness. I know I will!