For some of us, there’s more to forgiving a person who has wronged you than just saying, “I forgive you”. It takes a tremendous amount of work for some people to say those words and actually mean them, and believe me if you don’t mean them, it doesn’t matter how many times you say them.
The Act of Forgiving
Actually forgiving a person of an offense means that you stop feeling angry or resentful toward that person. According to Wikipedia, 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.
Notice that, nowhere, do you see anything about forgetting. You better not forget, lest you allow it to happen again. Forgiving just means you stop feeling angry toward that person. You stop feeling resentment toward that person. You stop wanting to get back at that person.
Is performing the act of forgiveness easy? Absolutely, positively not. The thing is, though, you have to forgive.
Performing the Act
The most immediate thing that made it impossible for me not to forgive my ex-husband is the fact that the Bible plainly says that we are to forgive if we want God to forgive us. Check out Matthew 6:14-15. Look at Matthew 11:26. Look at Mark 11:25.
I also knew that holding on to unforgiveness made it impossible for me to move on with my life. The offense happened in the past. If I continued to hold on to that thing, that, in essence, meant that I would remain in the past. I didn’t want to live there.
I knew that I couldn’t forgive on my own so I turned to God. I handed Him that burden. The load was too heavy for my human body to carry. I needed His strength.
I knew that I had to “feel” whatever it was that I was feeling and to be okay with that. Once I decided that it was okay to be pissed, that it was okay to scream, that it was okay to feel whatever, I felt better. Don’t suppress your true feelings at any time, especially when it involves something as important as forgiving. Feel what you feel, but don’t allow negative, hate-filled emotions to define you.
I survived a lot of verbal, mental, and emotional abuse. A lot. As I said earlier, in the beginning, I was able to forgive my ex immediately. It became harder to forgive him with each new incident because although I knew some of his acts were intentional, I still loved him and my prayer was that he would stop. He never did.
One of the things my mother was fond of saying was that if we didn’t make errors, a pencil wouldn’t have an eraser.
In our day-to-day lives, we all make mistakes. We hurt the ones we love. We don’t want to, but we do. It’s human nature. The one thing you must know, though, is that you’re not obligated to allow anyone to intentionally hurt you. If you’ve allowed that, forgive yourself and move on.
You deserve to live a happy, love-filled life. You can’t do that while you’re harboring unforgiveness. The lack of forgiving another or yourself weighs you down completely. You may be able to function, but you’re not really living.
Forgive the person and the offense for yourself. Free yourself to live.