Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us – the seventh and eighth lines of The Lord’s Prayer; a prayer many of us recite daily. Just imagine if the Lord forgave us according to the measure we use to forgive others. Things would look pretty bleak!
We’ve all been hurt, lied to, misunderstood, or rejected by someone. The pain is real and we want to strike back, but the trick is to forgive them for the transgression and let it go. Let it go!
Now, I’m not saying that you’re supposed to condone the behavior or pretend it didn’t happen; but don’t dwell on the situation and allow yourself to be swallowed up by anger, bitterness and feelings of injustice. Instead, deal with it, then let it go. Depending on the severity of the transgression, it might take a few days , weeks or even longer for you to get yourself in the right frame of mind to deal with the situation, but it must be dealt with. Otherwise, you run the risk if dragging that emotional baggage into your new relationships and experiences, becoming depressed or feeling that your life has no meaning or purpose. Anger and resentment cannot be allowed to fester and grow, because in the end, it can cost you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Practicing forgiveness is not always easy. It’s a step, albeit a crucial step, in the process of healing from pain. When someone hurts us, we might become angry, lash out and retaliate; or we might feel sad or confused and shut down. Then we go on to take care of ourselves. To nurse our wounds. Deal with our pain. It’s in this time of dealing with our pain that we make the decision to forgive the transgression or hold on to a grudge.
Forgiveness can be defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you. Forgiveness is not a get out of jail free pass. It doesn’t absolve the offender of the responsibility for hurting you, nor does it minimize or justify what they’ve done. In fact, you can forgive the offender without excusing what they’ve done. Forgiveness is for you. It releases you from destructive emotions associated with a hurtful experience.
The 4 steps to forgiveness are:
1. Acknowledgement and analysis of the situation
What happened? What are the facts? What do you perceive as the injustice? What was your role? What role did others play? Can you understand their point of view? How has the situation affected your life, health, well-being?
2. Choose to forgive
Move away from your role as a victim. Release the power the person and/or situation has on your life. Get rid of any thoughts, feelings or intentions to exact revenge. This step might require more information, additional conversations with the offender or with others who can help you be objective, etc. Until you are really able to let go of the pain and any desire for revenge, you are not ready to forgive.
3. Tell them you forgive them
This should be done unconditionally; not contingent upon an apology, acknowledgement, remorse, repentance or reparations.
4. Move on
Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation. In some cases reconciliation is possible, but true forgiveness is about a change within you, nobody else. Reconciliation involves acknowledgement, agreement, establishment of trust, and forgiveness among all parties involved. Sometimes you may have to agree to disagree and go your separate ways, but you can do so knowing that you are free from the hold the situation had on your life.
By letting go of anger, bitterness and resentment, we open ourselves up to inner peace, gratitude and joy. By ridding ourselves of negative energy and embracing positive energy, we can receive the blessings that are meant for us.
When someone hurts you, seek peace not justice. They may never get what you think they deserve, but that’s not your issue. As long as you emerge whole from the situation, the burden is no longer yours to carry.
If you seek forgiveness, be patient. Remember, you hurt someone and their forgiveness is about them, not about you. As you go forward, live responsibly by making a commitment to treat others with empathy, compassion and respect.
Thank you for taking a glimpse of the world through my eyes. Enjoy the scenery!